Job 22:20
Whereas our substance is not cut down, but the remnant of them the fire consumes.
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(20) Whereas our substance . . .—These are probably the words of the righteous and the innocent: “Surely they that did rise up against us are cut off, and the remnant of them the fire hath consumed.” The rendering in the Authorised Version is probably less correct, though in that also these words seem to be those of the innocent in Job 22:19.

Job 22:20. Whereas — Or rather, seeing that, or, because, when wicked men are destroyed, they are preserved. He should have said their substance; but he changes the person, and saith, our substance; either as including himself in the number of righteous persons, and thereby intimating that he pleaded the common cause of all such, while Job pleaded the cause of the wicked; or because he would hereby thankfully acknowledge some eminent and particular preservation given to him among other righteous men. The remnant of them — All that was left undestroyed in the general calamity. The fire consumeth — He is thought by some to allude to the judgment of God upon Sodom and Gomorrah: as if he had said, Thou mayest find here and there an instance of a wicked man dying in peace. But what is that to the two great instances of the final perdition of ungodly men, the drowning the whole world, and the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah. It seems, however, much more natural, as Dr. Dodd observes, to understand him as referring to the last general conflagration: “for how could the destroying a little city or two be said, with any propriety, to consume the remnant; that is, the whole remainder of wicked men? when, at the very same time, Chaldea, and perhaps the greatest part of the world, was overrun with idolatry. The dissolution of the world by fire is what St. Peter calls expressly, The day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men, 2 Peter 3:7. And St. Jude, Job 22:14, seems to say, that this was prophesied of by Enoch before the flood; and if so, must have been known to Noah, and by him, no doubt, transmitted to posterity, and so might be well known to Job and his friends.” Eliphaz, therefore, may be understood as saying, Though the judgment by water, extensive as it was, did not thoroughly purge the world, but wickedness and wicked men again sprung up, spread widely, and abounded; yet know, there shall come a time hereafter when the world shall be consumed by fire, and then the whole race and remainder of wicked men shall be delivered up, once for all, to such an absolute destruction, as that none shall ever spring from their ashes, nor shall the new world and its inhabitants know wickedness, or a defection from God any more. If this view of the passage be admitted, it will appear that the doctrine of the future dissolution of the world by fire, so plainly taught us in the New Testament, and so immediately connected with that of the resurrection, was not unknown in Job’s time, and consequently we shall have a further confirmation of the interpretation we have given of Job 19:25, and some other passages in this book. See Peters, p. 409; and the 24th, 25th, and 26th chapters of Isaiah, where the prophet seems to speak copiously on this subject, using an expression, Job 26:11, very like to this of Eliphaz. The fire of thine enemies, which is prepared for thine enemies, shall consume them.22:15-20 Eliphaz would have Job mark the old way that wicked men have trodden, and see what the end of their way was. It is good for us to mark it, that we may not walk therein. But if others are consumed, and we are not, instead of blaming them, and lifting up ourselves, as Eliphaz does here, we ought to be thankful to God, and take it for a warning.Whereas our substance is not cut down - Margin, or, "Estate" Gesenius supposes that this means our adversary or enemy. The word used here (קים qı̂ym) he regards as derived from קוּם qûm - to rise, to rise up; and, hence, it may have the sense of rising up against, or an enemy. So Noyes understands it, and renders it:

"Truly, our adversary is destroyed;

And fire hath consumed his abundance."

Rosemmuller accords with this, and it seems to me to be the correct view. According to this, it is the language of the righteous Job 22:19 when exciting over the punishment of the wicked, saying, "Our foe is cut down." Jerome renders it, Nonne succisa est erectio eorum, etc. The Septuagint, "Has not their substance ὑπόστασις hupostasis disappeared?" The sense is not materially different. If the word "substance," or "property," is to be retained it should be read as a question, and regarded as the language of the righteous who exult. "Has not their substance been taken away. and has not the fire consumed their property?" Dr. Good strangely renders it, "For our tribe is not cut off."

But the remnant of them - Margin, "their excellency." Hebrew יתרם yı̂thrām. Jerome, "reliquias eorum" - "the remnants of them." Septuagint, κατάλειμμα kataleimma - "the residue," or "what is left." The Hebrew word יתר yether means, "the remainder, the residue, the rest;" then, what is redundant, more than is needed, or that abounds; and then, "wealth," the superabundant property which a man does not "need" for his own use or family. The word here probably means that which the rich sinner possessed.

The fire consumeth - Or, hath consumed. It has been supposed by many that the allusion here is to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and it cannot be denied that such an allusion is possible. If it were "certain" that Job 54ed before that event, there could be little objection to such a supposition. The "only" objection would be, that a reference to such an event was not more prominent. It would be a case just in point in the argument of the three friends of Job, and one to which it might be supposed they would have appealed as decisive of the controversy. They lived in the vicinity. They could not have been strangers to so remarkable an occurrence, and it would have furnished just the argument which they wished, to prove that God punishes the wicked in this life. If they lived after that event, therefore, it is difficult to account for the fact, that they did not make a more distinct and prominent allusion to it in their argument. It is true, that the same remark may be made respecting the allusion to the flood, which was a case equally in point, and in reference to which the allusion, if it exist at all, is almost equally obscure. So far as the language here is concerned, the reference may be either to the destruction of Sodom, or to destruction by lightning, such as happened to the possessions of Job, Job 1:16; and it is difficult, if not impossible, to determine which is correct. The general idea is, that the judgments of heaven, represented by fire, had fallen on the wicked, and that the righteous, therefore, had occasion to rejoice.

20. The triumphant speech of the pious. If "substance" be retained, translate, rather as the Septuagint, "Has not their substance been taken away, and … ?" But the Hebrew is rather, "Truly our adversary is cut down" [Gesenius]. The same opposition exists between the godly and ungodly seed as between the unfallen and restored Adam and Satan (adversary); this forms the groundwork of the book (Job 1:1-2:13; Ge 3:15).

remnant—all that "is left" of the sinner; repeated from Job 20:26, which makes Umbreit's rendering "glory" (Margin), "excellency," less probable.

fire—alluding to Job (Job 1:16; 15:34; 18:15). First is mentioned destruction by water (Job 22:16); here, by fire (2Pe 3:5-7).

Whereas; or, when; or, seeing that; or, because; for this Hebrew particle im is oft used for chi. And so the following words may contain the reason of the joy and laughter of the innocent, mentioned Job 22:19, because when wicked men are destroyed, they are preserved; because

our substance, i.e. our souls, and bodies, and subsistence,

was now cut down. He should have said their substance, i.e. the substance of the righteous; but he changeth the person, and saith,

our substance; either as including himself in the number of righteous persons, and thereby intimating that he pleaded the common cause of all such, whilst Job pleaded the cause of the wicked, as is elsewhere observed; or because he would hereby thankfully acknowledge some eminent and particular preservation given to him amongst other righteous men; or because he and his brethren were of the same substance with and descended from the loins of them whom God had miraculously preserved, when others round about them were cut off; as God had done for Abraham and his posterity, of which race these are conceived to have been. And a like change both of person and number we find Hosea 12:4, He found him (i.e. Jacob) in Beth-el, and there he spake with us, i.e. with him, as representing us, and for all our good.

The remnant; all that was left undestroyed in the general calamity. Or, their excellency; all their desirable and delectable things. Of them, i.e. of those who are opposed to the righteous, and in whose destruction the righteous rejoiced.

The fire, to wit, of God’s wrath: some dreadful judgment, either proper fire, possibly that which destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, which such knowing and inquisitive persons could not be ignorant of, as a thing done near their times and places; or some other sore calamity; for such oft come under the name of fire. But this whole verse is and may be otherwise rendered, and that interrogatively. Is not (or rather, was not, the Hebrew prefix he being here understood, after the manner of the language, from Job 22:15, where it is expressed) our substance (i.e. almost all our nature and kind) cut off, (almost all destroyed in the flood,) and did not the fire consume a

remnant of them, i.e. of mankind, and of ungodly men, in Sodom and Gomorrah? Whereas our substance is not cut down,.... As yours is; Noah and his family were preserved in the ark, and the creatures with him, and sufficient sustenance was laid up for them all, when everything relating to the wicked was destroyed: but this may be thought too restrictive, as well as what follows too subtle, that this should respect the human species not being cut down and utterly destroyed in the flood, but preserved in and restored by Noah and his family; it may perhaps be thought better to interpret these words as the words of Eliphaz and his friends, joining with the righteous and the innocent, putting themselves in their number, and rejoicing with them at the destruction of the wicked, and as having a particular regard to Job's case, and the difference between him and them; his substance being cut down, and he stripped of all; whereas they were not deprived of theirs, but it continued with them, and they in the full possession of it; the reason of which difference was, he was a wicked man, and they righteous and innocent; but by others, who also take them to be the words of the righteous triumphing over the wicked, they are rendered thus; "is not he cut off that rose up against us?" (g) Our enemy and adversary, he is no more, he can do us no more hurt, and we are delivered out of his hand:

but the remnant of them the fire consumes; which Aben Ezra, Ben Gersom, and others, interpret of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the other cities, by fire; which would have had some appearance of truth, if the destruction had been of the whole world, and as general as the flood was, or more so, and had cleared the world of the remnant of the ungodly, whereas it was only of a few cities: rather it may be Eliphaz glances at the case of Job, as different from him and his friends, that when their substance was untouched, the remnant of Job's was consumed by fire; what were left by the Chaldeans and Sabeans were destroyed by fire from heaven; though if it could be thought that Eliphaz had knowledge of the general conflagration at the last day, and had that in view, it would afford a better sense; but it may be he does not mean material, but metaphorical fire, the fire of divine wrath, which will consume the wicked, root and branch, and leave them nothing.

(g) "annon exscinditur qui insurgit contra nos", Schmidt, Michaelis.

Whereas {o} our substance is not cut down, but the remnant of {p} them the fire consumeth.

(o) That is, the state and preservation of the godly, is hid under God's wings.

(p) Meaning of the wicked.

Verse 20. - Whereas our substance is not cut down. It is best to take these as the words of the righteous in their triumph over the wicked; but they can scarcely bear the interpretation given them in the Authorized Version. The clause is not really negative but affirmative, and the word קִים. does not mean "substance," but "adversary." Translate, Surely they that rose up against us (or, our adversaries) are cut off; and compare the Revised Version. The "adversaries" of the righteous are the "wicked men" who have been "snatched away before their time," and have had their "foundation overflown with a flood" (ver. 16). But the remnant of them the fire consumeth; rather, and the remnant of them hath the fire consumed (see the Revised Version). The "fire" here, like the "flood" in ver. 16, is a metaphor, and therefore not to be pressed. All that is essential is that the wicked are destroyed. Over this the "righteous" and the "innocent" rejoice. 12 Is not Eloah high as the heavens?

See but the head of the stars, how exalted!

13 So then thou thinkest: "What doth God know?

Can He judge through the thick cloud?

14 Clouds veil Him that He seeth not,

And in the vault of heaven He walketh at His pleasure."

Because Job has denied the distribution of worldly fortune, of outward prosperity and adversity, according to the law of the justice that recompenses like for like, Eliphaz charges him with that unbelief often mentioned in the Psalms (Psalm 73:11; Psalm 94:7; comp. Isaiah 29:15; Ezekiel 8:12), which denies to the God in heaven, as Epicurus did to the gods who lead a blessed life in the spaces between the worlds, a knowledge of earthly things, and therefore the preliminary condition for a right comprehension of them. The mode of expression here is altogether peculiar. גּבהּ שׁמים is not acc. loci, as the like accusatives in combination with the verb שׁכן, Isaiah 57:15, may be taken: the substantival clause would lead one to expect בּגבהּ, or better בּגבהי (Job 11:8); it is rather (similar to Job 11:8) nomin. praedicati: Eloah is the height of the heavens equals heaven-high, as high as the heavens, therefore certainly highly, and indeed very highly, exalted above this earth. In this sense it is continued with Waw explic.: and behold ( equals behold then) the head of the stars, that, or how (כּי as in Genesis 49:15; 1 Samuel 14:29, quod equals quam) exalted they are. וּראה has Asla (Kadma) in correct texts, and רמו is written רמּוּ (râmmu) with a so-called Dag. affectuosum (Olsh. 83, b). It may be received as certain that ראשׁ, the head (vertex), beside ראה (not ספר), does not signify the sum (Aben-Ezra). But it is questionable whether the genitive that follows ראשׁ is gen. partitivus: the highest among the stars (Ew., Hirz., Schlottm.), or gen. epexegeticus: the head, i.e., (in relation to the rest of the universe) the height, which is formed by the stars, or even which they occupy (Ges. coelum stellatum); the partitive rendering is to be preferred, for the Semitic perception recognises, as the plural שׁמים implies, nearer and more distant celestial spheres. The expression "head of the stars" is therefore somewhat like fastigium coeli (the extreme height, i.e., the middle of the vault of heaven), or culmen aereum (of the aether separating the strata of air above); the summit of the stars rising up into the extremest spheres is intended (we should say: the fixed stars, or to use a still more modern expression, the milky way), as also the רמו naturally refers to ראשׁ כוכבים as one notion (summitas astrorum equals summa astra).

The connection of what follows with Waw is not adversative (Hirz., Ew., and others: and yet thou speakest), it is rather consecutive (Hahn: and since thou speakest; better: and in consequence of this thou speakest; or: thus speakest thou, thinkest thou then). The undeniable truth that God is exalted, and indeed absolute in His exaltation, is misapplied by Job to the false conclusion: what does God know, or (since the perf. in interrogative sentences frequently corresponds to the Latin conjunctive, vid., on Psalm 11:3) how should God know, or take knowledge, i.e., of anything that happens on earth? In Job 22:13 the potential takes the place of this modal perfect: can He rule judicially behind the dark clouds, i.e., over the world below from which He is shut out? בּעד (of like verbal origin with the Arab. b‛da, post, prop. distance, separation, succession, but of wider use) signifies here, as in Job 1:10; Job 9:7, behind, pone, with the secondary notion of being encompassed or covered by that which shuts off. Far from having an unlimited view of everything earthly from His absolute height, it is veiled from His by the clouds, so that He sees not what occurs here below, and unconcerned about it He walks the circle of the heavens (that which vaults the earth, the inhabitants of which seem to Him, according to Isaiah 40:22, as grasshoppers); התלּך is here, after the analogy of Kal, joined with the accus. of the way over which He walks at His pleasure: orbem coelum obambulat. By such unworthy views of the Deity, Job puts himself on a par with the godless race that was swept away by the flood in ancient days, without allowing himself to be warned by this example of punishment.

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