Job 22:5
Is not your wickedness great? and your iniquities infinite?
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(5) Is not thy wickedness great?—This was mere conjecture and surmise, arising simply from a false assumption: namely, that a just God can only punish the wicked, and that therefore those must be wicked whom He punishes.

Job 22:5. Is not thy wickedness great? — Thy great sins are the true and only cause of thy misery. Or, the verse may be translated, Is not thy evil (thy affliction or punishment) great, because, אין קצ, ein ketz, there is no end to thy iniquities? Are not thy calamities procured by, and in proportion to thy sins? Thy conscience tells thee they are so. And therefore thou hast no reason to accuse God, or any person but thyself.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.Is not thy wickedness great? - That is, "Is it not utter presumption and folly for a man, whose wickedness is undoubtedly so great, to presume to enter into a litigation with God?" Eliphaz here "assumes" it as an undeniable proposition, that Job was a great sinner. This charge had not been directly made before. He and his friends had argued evidently on that supposition, and had maintained that one who was a great sinner would be punished in this life for it, and they had left it to be implied, in no doubtful manner, that they so regarded Job. But the charge had not been before so openly made. Here Eliphaz argues as if that were a point that could not be disputed. The only "proof" that he had, so far as appears, was, that Job had been afflicted as they maintained great sinners "would be," and they, therefore, concluded that he must be such. No facts are referred to, except that he was a great sufferer, and yet, on the ground of this, he proceeds to take for granted that he "must have been" a man who had taken a pledge for no cause; had refused to give water to the thirsty; had been an oppressor, etc.

And thine iniquities infinite? - Hebrew "And there is no end to thine iniquities," that is, they are without number. This does not mean that sin is an "infinite evil," or that his sins were infinite in degree; but that if one should attempt to reckon up the number of his transgressions, there would be no end to them. This, I believe, is the only place in the Bible where sin is spoken of, in any respect, as "infinite;" and this cannot be used as a proof text, to show that sin is an infinite evil, for:

(1) that is not the meaning of the passage even with respect to Job;

(2) it makes no affirmation respecting sin in general; and

(3) it was untrue, even in regard to Job, and in the sense in which Zophar meant to use the phrase.

There is no intelligible sense in which it can be said that sin is "an infinite evil;" and no argument should be based on such a declaration, to prove that sin demanded an infinite atonement, or that it deserves eternal sufferings. Those doctrines can be defended on solid grounds - they should not be made to rest on a false assumption, or on a false interpretation of the Scriptures.

5. Heretofore Eliphaz had only insinuated, now he plainly asserts Job's guilt, merely on the ground of his sufferings. Thy great sins are the true and only causes of thy misery. The words may very well be rendered thus, Is not thy evil (i.e. thy punishment or affliction, which is frequently expressed by this very word) great, because (the particle and being oft used causally, as it is Genesis 18:13 22:12 24:56 Isaiah 34:1 64:5)

thine iniquities are infinite? Are not thy calamities procured by and proportionable to thy sins? Thy own conscience tells thee they are so. And therefore thou hast no reason to accuse God, nor any person but thyself. Is not thy wickedness great?.... It must be owned it is, it cannot be denied. Indeed, the wickedness of every man's heart is great, it being desperately wicked, full of sin, abounding with it; out of it comes forth everything that is bad, and the wickedness of actions is very great: some sins are indeed greater than others, as those against God, and the first table of the law, are greater than those against men, or the second table; some are like crimson and scarlet, are beams in the eye, while others are comparatively as motes; yet all are great, as committed against God, and as they are breaches of his law; and especially they appear so to sensible sinners, to whom sin is made exceeding sinful; and they see and own themselves to be the chief of sinners, and as such entreat for pardon on that account, see Psalm 25:11;

and thine iniquities infinite? strictly speaking, nothing is infinite but God; sins may be said in some sense to be infinite, because committed against an infinite God, and cannot be satisfied for by a finite creature, or by finite sufferings, only through the infinite value of the blood of Christ; here it signifies, that his iniquities were "innumerable" (n), as some versions, they were not to be reckoned up, they were so many; or, more literally, there is "no end of thine iniquities" (o), there is no summing of them up; and it may denote his continuance in them; Eliphaz suggests as if Job 54ed in sin, and allowed himself in it, and was going on in a course of iniquity without end, which was very uncharitable; here he charges him in a general way, and next he descends to particulars.

(n) Sept. (o) "non est finis iniquitatibus tuis", Pagninus, Montanus, &c.

Is not thy wickedness great? and thine iniquities infinite?
5–9. Job’s afflictions are because of his sins—sins which Eliphaz now suggests and enumerates. They are such sins as a powerful Oriental ruler naturally falls into, inhumanity, avarice, and abuse of power.Verse 5. - Is not thy wickedness great? Judging from the greatness of Job's punishment, Eliphaz concludes, logically from his premisses, that his wickedness must be commensurate. He must have been guilty of almost every form of ill-doing. And thine iniquities infinite? literally, and is there not no end to thine iniquities? These general conclusions seem to Eliphaz to justify him in proceeding to the enumeration of details. 32 And he is brought to the grave,

And over the tomb he still keepeth watch.

33 The clods of the valley are sweet to him,

And all men draw after him,

As they preceded him without number.

. . . . . .

34 And how will ye comfort me so vainly!

Your replies are and remain perfidy.

During life removed at the time of dire calamity, this unapproachable evil-doer is after his death carried to the grave with all honour (יוּבל, comp. Job 10:19), and indeed to a splendid tomb; for, like משׁכנות above, קברות is also an amplificative plural. It is certainly the most natural to refer ישׁקד, like יוּבל, to the deceased. The explanation: and over the tomb one keeps watch (Bttch., Hahn, Rd., Olsh.), is indeed in itself admissible, since that which serves as the efficient subject is often left unexpressed (Genesis 48:2; 2 Kings 9:21; Isaiah 53:9; comp. supra, on Job 18:18); but that, according to the prevalent usage of the language, ישׁקד would denote only a guard of honour at night, not also in the day, and that for clearness it would have required גּדישׁו instead of גּדישׁ, are considerations which do not favour this explanation, for שׁקד signifies to watch, to be active, instead of sleeping or resting; and moreover, the placing of guards of honour by graves is an assumed, but not proved, custom of antiquity. Nevertheless, ישׁקד might also in general denote the watchful, careful tending of the grave, and the maqâm (the tomb) of one who is highly honoured has, according to Moslem custom, servants (châdimı̂n) who are appointed for this duty. But though the translation "one watches" should not be objected to on this ground, the preference is to be given to a commendable rendering which makes the deceased the subject of ישׁקד. Raschi's explanation does not, however, commend itself: "buried in his own land, he also in death still keeps watch over the heaps of sheaves." The lxx translates similarly, ἐπὶ σωρῶν, which Jerome improperly, but according to a right sentiment, translates, in congerie mortuorum. For after the preceding mention of the pomp of burial, גּדישׁ, which certainly signifies a heap of sheaves in Job 5:26, is favoured by the assumption of its signifying a sepulchral heap, with reference to which also in that passage (where interment is likewise the subject of discourse) the expression is chosen. Haji Gaon observes that the dome (קבּה, Arab. qbbt, the dome and the sepulchral monument vaulted over by it)

(Note: Vid., Lane's Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians (translated by Zenker).)

erected over graves according to Arab custom is intended; and Aben-Ezra says, that not exactly this, but in general the grave-mound formed of earth, etc., is to be understood. In reality, גדישׁ (from the verb גדשׁ, cumulare, commonly used in the Talmud and Aramaic) signifies cumulus, in the most diversified connections, which in Arabic are distributed among the verbs jds, kds, and jdš, especially tumulus, Arab. jadatun (broader pronunciation jadafun). If by grave-mound a mound with the grave upon it can be understood, a beautiful explanation is presented which accords with the preference of the Beduin for being buried on an eminence, in order that even in death he may be surrounded by his relations, and as it were be able still to overlook their encampment: the one who should have had a better lot is buried in the best place of the plain, in an insignificant grave; the rich man, however, is brought up to an eminence and keeps watch on his elevated tomb, since from this eminence as from a watch-tower he even in death, as it were, enjoys the wide prospect which delighted him so while living.

(Note: "Take my bones," says an Arabian poem, "and carry them with you, wherever you go; and if ye bury them, bury them opposite your encampment! And bury me not under a vine, which would shade me, but upon a hill, so that my eye can see you!" Vid., Ausland, 1863, Nr. 15 (Ein Ritt nach Transjordanien).)

But the signification collis cannot be supported; גדישׁ signifies the hill which is formed by the grave itself, and Job 21:33 indeed directs us to the wady as the place of burial, not to the hill. But if גדישׁ is the grave-mound, it is also not possible with Schlottm. to think of the pictures on the wall and images of the deceased, as they are found in the Egyptian vaults (although in Job 3:14 we recognised an allusion to the pyramids), for it cannot then be a גדישׁ in the strict sense that is spoken of; the word ought, like the Arabic jdṯ (which the Arab. translation of the New Testament in the London Polyglott uses of the μνημεῖον of Jesus), with a mingling of its original signification, to have been used in the general signification sepulcrum. This would be possible, but it need not be supposed. Job's words are the pictorial antithesis to Bildad's assertion, Job 18:17, that the godless man dies away without trace or memorial; it is not so, but as may be heard from the mouth of people who have experience in the world: he keeps watch over his tomb, he continues to watch although asleep, since he is continually brought to remembrance by the monument built over his tomb. A keeping watch that no one approaches the tomb disrespectfully (Ew.), is not to be thought of. שׁקד is a relative negation of the sleep of death: he is dead, but in a certain manner he continues to live, viz., in the monument planting forward his memory, which it remains for the imagination to conceive of as a mausoleum, or weapons, or other votive offerings hung upon the walls, etc. In connection with such honour, which follows him even to and beyond death, the clods of the valley (est ei terra levis) are sweet (מתקוּ is accentuated with Mercha, and לו without Makkeph with little-Rebia) to him; and if death in itself ought to be accounted an evil, he has shared the common fate which all men after him will meet, and which all before him have met; it is the common end of all made sweet to him by the pageantry of his burial and his after-fame. Most modern expositors (Ew., Hirz., Umbr., Hlgst., Welte) understand the ימשׁך, which is used, certainly, not in the transitive signification: to draw after one's self, but in the intransitive: to draw towards (lxx απελεύσεται), as Judges 4:6 (vid., Ges. Thes.), of an imitative treading of the same way; but כּל־אדם would then be an untrue hyperbole, by which Job would expose himself to the attack of his adversaries.

In Job 21:34 Job concludes his speech; the Waw of ואיך, according to the idea (as e.g., the Waw in ואני, Isaiah 43:12), is an inferential ergo. Their consolation, which is only available on condition of penitence, is useless; and their replies, which are intended to make him an evil-doer against the testimony of his conscience, remain מעל. It is not necessary to construe: and as to your answers, only מעל remains. The predicate stands per attractionem in the sing.: their answers, reduced to their true value, leave nothing behind but מעל, end in מעל, viz., באלהים, Joshua 22:22, perfidious sinning against God, i.e., on account of the sanctimonious injustice and uncharitableness with which they look suspiciously on him.


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