Job 21:22
Shall any teach God knowledge? seeing he judgeth those that are high.
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(22) Shall any teach God knowledge? may be regarded as the hypothetical reply of the antagonist. If the reader prefers to understand these latter verses in any other way, it is open to him to do so, but in our judgment it seems better to understand them thus. The supposed alternative hypothetical argument seems to throw much light upon them.

Job 21:22. Shall any teach God knowledge — How to govern the world? For so you do while you tell him that he must not afflict the godly, nor give the wicked prosperity; that he must invariably punish the wicked, and reward the righteous in this world. No: he will act as sovereign, and with great variety in his providential dispensations. Seeing he judgeth those that are high — The highest persons on earth, he exactly knows them, and gives sentence concerning them, as he sees fit. Thus, as Job had introduced the foregoing particular, namely, that wicked men are sometimes severely punished in this world, by an easy transition, at Job 21:16; so, by another as easy, he here introduces the remaining article of his discourse above mentioned, namely, that God deals out things promiscuously in this world, not according to men’s merit or demerit, which he pursues in the following verses.

21:17-26 Job had described the prosperity of wicked people; in these verses he opposes this to what his friends had maintained about their certain ruin in this life. He reconciles this to the holiness and justice of God. Even while they prosper thus, they are light and worthless, of no account with God, or with wise men. In the height of their pomp and power, there is but a step between them and ruin. Job refers the difference Providence makes between one wicked man and another, into the wisdom of God. He is Judge of all the earth, and he will do right. So vast is the disproportion between time and eternity, that if hell be the lot of every sinner at last, it makes little difference if one goes singing thither, and another sighing. If one wicked man die in a palace, and another in a dungeon, the worm that dies not, and the fire that is not quenched, will be the same to them. Thus differences in this world are not worth perplexing ourselves about.Shall any teach God knowledge? - This commences the reply of Job to the sentiments of his friends to which he had just adverted. The substance of the reply is, that no one could prescribe to God how he should deal with people, and that it; was not a FACT that people were treated as they had supposed. Instead of its being true, as they maintained, that wicked people would all be cut down in some fearful and violent manner, as a punishment for their sins, Job goes on Job 21:23-26 to show that they died in a great variety of ways - one in full age and prosperity, and another in another manner. This, he says, God directs as he pleases. No one can teach him knowledge; no one can tell him what he ought to do. The reasoning of his friends, Job seems to imply, had been rather an attempt to teach God how he "ought" to deal with people, than a patient and candid inquiry into the "facts" in the case, and he says the facts were not as they supposed they ought to be.

Seeing he judgeth those that are high - Or rather, he judges "among the things" that are high. He rules over the great affairs of the universe, and it is presumptuous in us to attempt to prescribe to him how he shall govern the world. The design of this and the following verses is to show, that, from the manner in which people actually die, no argument can be derived to determine what was their religious condition, or their real character. Nothing is more fallacious than that kind of reasoning.

22. Reply of Job, "In all these assertions you try to teach God how He ought to deal with men, rather than prove that He does in fact so deal with them. Experience is against you. God gives prosperity and adversity as it pleases Him, not as man's wisdom would have it, on principles inscrutable to us" (Isa 40:13; Ro 11:34).

those … high—the high ones, not only angels, but men (Isa 2:12-17).

Knowledge, i.e. discretion, or how to govern the world. For so you do, whilst you tell him that he must not sorely afflict the godly, nor give the wicked much and long prosperity here.

He judgeth those that are high; either,

1. The highest persons, whether in earth, as the greatest kings; or in heaven, as the angels: he judgeth them, i.e. he exactly knows them, and accordingly gives sentence concerning them, as he sees fit; and therefore it is great folly and presumption in us to direct or correct his judgments. Or,

2. Those things that are high, and deep, and far out of our reach, as God’s secret counsels and judgments are.

Shall any teach God knowledge?.... Who is a God of knowledge, and knows all things, that teaches men knowledge; will any one take upon him to teach him the path of judgment, and the way of understanding, how he shall govern the world, and dispose of men and things in it? see Isaiah 40:13. Will anyone be so bold and audacious as to pretend to direct and instruct him whom he shall afflict, and whom not, and when he shall do it, and in what manner? should not these things be left to him, who does all things after the counsel of his own will? shall his dealings with men in an outward way of providence be the criterions of the characters and estates of men, as if love and hatred were to be known by those things, and therefore God must be taught what he should do in order to fix them?

seeing he judgeth those that are high; not the high heavens, as the Targum, nor the angels in them, though he has judged them that sinned, and cast them down to hell; but the high ones on earth, kings, princes, and civil magistrates, such as are in high places, and are lifted up with pride above others: God is above them; he is higher than the highest, and judges them; he is the Judge of all the earth, that will do right, the Governor of the universe, and who overrules all things for his own glory and the good of his creatures; and therefore none should pretend to direct him what is fit and proper to be done by him, who is a Sovereign, and distinguishes men in his providence, in life, and at death, as follows; but their characters, as good or bad men, are not to be determined thereby.

Shall any teach {l} God knowledge? seeing he judgeth those that are high.

(l) Who sends to the wicked prosperity and punishes the godly.

22. The emphasis falls on God—Shall any teach knowledge unto God? The principles of providence insisted on by the friends were not those according to which God’s actual providence was administered. They were substituting their principles for His.

seeing he judgeth] The clause emphasises the word God: Shall any teach knowledge unto God—God who judges those that are high? “Those that are high” are the inhabitants of the heavens; and to “judge” means to decide in regard to, to bring His judicial power to bear upon; the word does not mean to condemn. God judges the heavens, and shall one teach Him how to rule the affairs of earth? Cf. ch. Job 22:13.

22–26. By insisting on a doctrine of providence which did not correspond to God’s providence as actually seen in facts, Job’s friends were making themselves wiser than God and becoming His teachers—Will any teach knowledge unto God? Shall we insist on His method of government being what it plainly is not? This is what it is: One man dieth in his full prosperity,—wholly at ease and quiet. Another man dieth in the bitterness of his soul and has not tasted pleasure. They lie down alike in the dust and the worm covers them. Their different fortune is not determined by their different character. The one is not good and the other wicked. But God distributes to them as He chooses.

Verse 22. - Shall any teach God knowledge? Job has been searching the "deep things of God," speculating upon the method of the Divine government of the world, he has perhaps rashly ventured to "rush in where angels fear to tread." Now, however, he cheeks himself with the confession that God's ways are inscrutable, his knowledge far beyond any knowledge possessed by man. Men must not presume to judge him; it is for him to judge them. Seeing he judgeth those that are high. None so exalted, none so advanced in wisdom and knowledge, none so venturesome in sounding depths that they cannot fathom, but God is above them, judges them, knows their hearts, and, according to his infallible wisdom, condemns or approves them. This is a chastening thought, and its effect on Job is to make him contract his sails, and, leaving the empyrean, content himself with s lower flight. Previously he has maintained, as if he were admitted to the Divine counsels, that the prosperity of the wicked was a rule of God's government. Now he goes no further than to say that there is no rule discoverable. Happiness and misery are dispensed - as far as man can see - on no definite principle, and, at the end, one lot happens to all: all go down into the tomb, and lie in the dust, and the worms devour them (vers. 23-26). Job 21:2222 Shall one teach God knowledge,

Who judgeth those who are in heaven?

23 One dieth in his full strength,

Being still cheerful and free from care.

24 His troughs are full of milk,

And the marrow of his bones is well watered.

25 And another dieth with a sorrowing spirit,

And hath not enjoyed wealth.

26 They lie beside one another in the dust,

And worms cover them both.

The question, Job 21:22, concerns the friends. Since they maintain that necessarily and constantly virtue is rewarded by prosperity, and sin by misfortune, but without this law of the divine order of the world which is maintained by them being supported by experience: if they set themselves up as teachers of God, they will teach Him the right understanding of the conduct which is to be followed by Him as a ruler and judge of men, while nevertheless He is the Absolute One, beneath whose judicial rule not merely man, but also the heavenly spirits, are placed, and to which they must conform and bow. The verb למּד, instead of being construed with two acc., as in the dependent passage Isaiah 40:14, is here construed with the dat. of the person (which is not to be judged according to Job 5:2; Job 19:3, but according to διδάσκειν τινί τι, to teach one anything, beside the other prevailing construction). With והוא a circumstantial clause begins regularly: while He, however, etc. Arnh. and Lwenth. translate: while, however, He exaltedly judges, i.e., according to a law that infinitely transcends man; but that must have been מרום (and even thus it would still be liable to be misunderstood). Hahn (whom Olsh. is inclined to support): but He will judge the proud, to which first the circumstantial clause, and secondly the parallels, Job 35:2; Job 15:15; Job 4:18 (comp. Isaiah 24:21), from which it is evident that רמים signifies the heavenly beings (as Psalm 78:69, the heights of heaven), are opposed: it is a fundamental thought of this book, which abounds in allusions to the angels, that the angels, although exalted above men, are nevertheless in contrast with God imperfect, and therefore are removed neither from the possibility of sin nor the necessity of a government which holds them together in unity, and exercises a judicial authority over them. The rule of the all-exalted Judge is different from that which the three presumptuously prescribe to Him.

The one (viz., the evil-doer) dies בּעצם תּמּו, in ipsa sua integritate, like בעצם היום, ipso illo die; the Arabic would be fı̂ ‛yn, since there the eye, here the bone (comp. Uhlemann, Syr. Gramm. 58), denote corporeality, duration, existence, and therefore identity. תּם is intended of perfect external health, as elsewhere מתם; comp. תּמימים, Proverbs 1:12. In Job 21:23 the pointing שׁלאנן (adj.) and שׁלאנן (3 praet.) are interchanged in the Codd.; the following verbal adjective favours the form of writing with Kametz. As to the form, however (which Rd. and Olsh. consider to be an error in writing), it is either a mixed form from שׁאנן and שׁלו with the blended meaning of both (Ew. 106, c), to which the comparison with שׁליו ( equals שׁלו) is not altogether suitable, or it is formed from שׁאנן by means of an epenthesis (as זלעף from זעף, aestuare, and בלסם, βάλσαμον, from בשׂם), and of similar but intensified signification; we prefer the latter, without however denying the real existence of such mixed forms (vid., on Job 26:9; Job 33:25). This fulness of health and prosperity is depicted in Job 21:24. The ancient translators think, because the bones are mentioned in the parallel line, עטיניו must also be understood of a part of the body: lxx ἔγκατα, Jer. viscera; Targ. בּיזוי, his breasts, βυζία

(Note: Vid., Handschriftliche Funde, 2. S. V.)

(for Hebr. שׁדים, שׁד); Syr. version gabauh ( equals ganbauh), his sides in regard to עטמא, Syr. ‛attmo equals אטמא, side, hip; Saad. audâguhu, his jugular veins, in connection with which (not, however, by this last rendering) חלב is read instead of חלב: his bowels, etc., are full of fat.


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