Job 22:13
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.22:5-14 Eliphaz brought heavy charges against Job, without reason for his accusations, except that Job was visited as he supposed God always visited every wicked man. He charges him with oppression, and that he did harm with his wealth and power in the time of his prosperity.And thou sayest, How doth God know? - That is, it "follows" from what you have said; or the opinion which you have advanced is "the same" as if you had affirmed this. How common it is to charge a man with holding what we "infer," from something which he has advanced, he must hold, and then to proceed to argue "as if" he actually held that. The philosophy of this is plain. He advances a certain opinion. "We" infer at once that he can hold that only on certain grounds, or that if he holds that he must hold something else also. We can see that if "we" held that opinion, we should also, for the sake of consistency, be compelled to hold something which seems to follow from it, and we cannot see how this can be avoided, and we at once charge him with holding it. But the truth may be, that "he" has not seen that such consequences follow, or that he has some other way of accounting for the fact than we have; or that he may hold to the fact and yet deny wholly the consequences which legitimately follow from it. Now we have a right to show him "by argument" that his opinions, if he would follow them out, would lead to dangerous consequences, but we have a right to charge him with holding only what he "professes" to hold. He is not answerable for our inferences; and we have no right to charge them on him as being his real opinions. Every man has a right to avow what he actually believes, and to be regarded as holding that, and that only.

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.

13. Rather, And yet thou sayest, God does not concern Himself with ("know") human affairs (Ps 73:11). 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? And thou sayest, how doth God know?.... What is done on earth, the works of the children of men, their sinful actions, when he dwells at such a distance, and so remote from the earth, as the height of the stars, and highest heavens, be; not that Job said this expressly with his lips, but in his heart; Eliphaz imagined and supposed that such was the reasoning of his mind; it was an invidious consequence he had drawn from what Job had said concerning the afflictions of the godly, and the prosperity of the wicked; which he interpreted as a denial of the providence of God, as if he had no regard to human affairs, but things took place in a very disorderly and confused way, without any regard to right or wrong; and he concluded that Job was led into these sentiments by the consideration of the distance of God from the earth; that, dwelling in the highest heavens, he could not and did not see what was done here, and therefore men might commit all manner of sin with impunity; that their sins would never be taken notice of, or they be called to an account for them; which are the very language and sentiments of the most abandoned of men, see 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.

(x) Peritzol.

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. 6 For thou distrainedst thy brother without cause,

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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