And you say, How does God know? can he judge through the dark cloud?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Job 22:13. And — Or therefore, thou sayest, How doth God know? &c. — From this true and certain principle, thou drawest a false and wicked conclusion, and fanciest, perhaps, that because he is so high he minds not what is done here below: or, that he cannot discern the difference of things so very remote, through those immense and innumerable clouds which lie between the heaven and the earth.
How doth God know? - That is, How can one so exalted see what is done on the distant earth, and reward and punish people according to their deserts? This opinion was actually held by many of the ancients. It was supposed that the supreme God did not condescend to attend to the affairs of mortals, but had committed the government of the earth to inferior beings. This was the foundation of the Gnostic philosophy, which prevailed so much in the East in the early ages of the Christian church. Milton puts a similar sentiment into the mouth of Eve in her reflections after she had eaten the forbidden fruit:
And I, perhaps, am secret: heaven is high,
High and remote from thence to see distinct
Each thing on earth; and other care perhaps
May have diverted from continual watch
Our great Forbidder, safe with all his spies about him.
Paradise Lost, B. ix.
Can he judge through the dark cloud? - Can he look down through the clouds which interpose between man and him? Eliphaz could not see how Job could maintain his opinions without holding that this was impossible for God. He could see no other reason why God did not punish the wicked than because "he did not see them," and he, therefore, charges this opinion on Job.And, or, therefore; from this true and certain principle thou drawest this false and wicked conclusion. Or, yet, notwithstanding this undeniable argument.
Thou sayest; thou reasonest thus within thyself, as it may seem by thy discourses.
How doth God know? i.e. God cannot discern, and therefore doth not mind things so far below him and distant from him.
Can he judge through the dark cloud, i.e. through those immense and innumerable clouds which lie between the heaven and the earth, although our eyes see but few of them? Psalm 10:11;
can he judge through the dark clouds? if he cannot see and know what is done, he cannot judge of it, whether it is good or bad, and so can neither justify nor condemn an action. By "the dark cloud" is not meant the matter, or corporeal mass, with which man is covered, as a Jewish commentator (x) interprets it; rather the cloudy air, or atmosphere around us; or that thick darkness in which Jehovah dwells, clouds and darkness being around him, Psalm 97:2; but all this hinders not his sight of things done here below; what is thick darkness to us is pure light to him, in which also he is said to dwell, and with which he covers himself as with a garment; and the darkness and the light are both alike to him, he can see and judge through the one as well as the other.And thou sayest, How doth God know? can he judge through the dark cloud?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verse 13. - And thou sayest, How doth God know? Job had not said this in so many words, but, by equalizing the godly and the wicked (Job 9:22; Job 21:23-26), he might be supposed to mean that God took no note of men's conduct, and therefore had not a perfect knowledge of all things. The psalmist implies that many men so thought (Psalm 10:11; Psalm 73:11; Psalm 94:7). Can he judge through the dark cloud? rather, through the thick darkness. God was supposed to dwell remote from man, in the highest heaven, and, according to many, "clouds and darkness were round about him" (Psalm 97:2) - he "dwelt in the thick darkness" (1 Kings 8:12) - he "made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him was waters, and thick clouds of the skies" (Psalm 18:11). The imagery was, no doubt, at first used in reference to man's inability to see and know God; but when men became familiar with it, they turned the metaphor round, and questioned God's ability to see and know anything about man. Job had not really ever shared in these doubts; but it suits Eliphaz's purpose to malign and misrepresent him.
And the clothes of the naked thou strippedst off.
7 Thou gavest no water to the languishing,
And thou refusedst bread to the hungry.
8 And the man of the arm-the land was his,
And the honourable man dwelt therein.
9 Thou sentest widows away empty,
And the arms of the orphan are broken.
The reason of exceeding great suffering most be exceeding great sins. Job must have committed such sins as are here cited; therefore Eliphaz directly attributes guilt to him, since he thinks thus to tear down the disguise of the hypocrite. The strophe contains no reference to the Mosaic law: the compassionate Mosaic laws respecting duties towards widows and orphans, and the poor who pledge their few and indispensable goods, may have passed before the poet's mind; but it is not safe to infer it from the expression. As specific Mohammedan commandments among the wandering tribes even in the present day have no sound, so the poet dare not assume, in connection with the characters of his drama, any knowledge, of the Sinaitic law; and of this he remains conscious throughout: their standpoint is and remains that of the Abrahamic faith, the primary commands (later called the ten commands of piety, el-felâhh) of which were amply sufficient for stigmatizing that to which this strophe gives prominence as sin. It is only the force of the connection of the matter here which gives the futt. which follow כי a retrospective meaning. חבל is connected either with the accusative of the thing for which the pledge is taken, as in the law, which meets a response in the heart, Exodus 22:25.; or with the accus. of the person who is seized, as here אחיך; or, if this is really (as Br asserts) a mistake that has gained a footing, which has Codd. and old printed editions against it, rather אחיך. lxx, Targ., Syr., and Jer. read the word as plural. ערוּמים (from ערום), like γυμνοί, James 2:15, nudi (comp. Seneca, de beneficiis, v. 13: si quis male vestitum et pannosum videt, nudum se vidisse dicit), are, according to our mode of expression, the half-naked, only scantily (vid., Isaiah 20:2) clothed.
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