Job 23:1
Then Job answered and said,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
XXIII.

(1) Then Job answered.—Job replies to the insinuations of Eliphaz with the earnest longing after God and the assertion of his own innocence; while in the twenty-fourth chapter he laments that his own case is but one of many, and that multitudes suffer from the oppression of man unavenged, as he suffers from the stroke of God.

Job 23:1. Then Job answered — Job, being exceedingly grieved by the freedom which Eliphaz had taken with him in his last speech, charging him directly with the most enormous sins, (see the 15th and following verses,) turns and appeals to God, according to his custom, and earnestly begs he would hear the matter fully, and determine between him and his friends. The passage from this to the end of the 10th verse is peculiarly fine, and well worthy of the reader’s deep attention. In it Job fully answers the charge of Eliphaz concerning his denial or disbelief of the Divine Providence; and observes, that this was so far from being the case, that there was nothing he so much lamented as that he was excluded from God’s presence, and not permitted to draw near and make his defence before him; having the testimony of his own conscience respecting his integrity, and not doubting but he should make his cause good. He then shows, that his cause was far from being singular, for that many other dispensations of God’s providence were equally difficult to be accounted for, at least by human understanding; and that it was this which filled him with greater apprehensions. He expresses his desire that God, in the course of his providence, would make a more visible distinction between the righteous and the wicked in this world, that good men might not fall into such mistakes in censuring suffering innocence. He concludes with showing what, according to their principles, ought to be the general course of providence with regard to wicked men, which, however, it was notorious was not the case: and since it was not, it was plain that he had proved his point, and the falsity of their maxim was apparent: and their censuring him merely for his sufferings was a behaviour by no means justifiable. — Heath.23:1-7 Job appeals from his friends to the just judgement of God. He wants to have his cause tried quickly. Blessed be God, we may know where to find him. He is in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself; and upon a mercy-seat, waiting to be gracious. Thither the sinner may go; and there the believer may order his cause before Him, with arguments taken from his promises, his covenant, and his glory. A patient waiting for death and judgment is our wisdom and duty, and it cannot be without a holy fear and trembling. A passionate wishing for death or judgement is our sin and folly, and ill becomes us, as it did Job.He shall deliver the island of the innocent - Margin, "the innocent shall deliver the island." Never was there a more unhappy translation than this; and it is quite clear that our translators had no intelligible idea of the meaning of the passage. What can be meant by "saving the island of the innocent?" The word rendered island (אי 'ı̂y) commonly means, indeed, an island, or a maritime country; see Isaiah 20:6, note. It is, however, used as a "negative" in 1 Samuel 4:21, in the name "I-chabod" - אי־כבוד 'ı̂y-kâbôd. "And she named the child I-chabod (margin, that is, "where is the glory?" or, there is "no glory"), saying, the glory is departed from Israel." This sense is frequent in the Rabbinic Hebrew, where it is used as connected with an adjective in a privative sense, like the English "un." It is probably an abbreviated form of (אין 'ayı̂n) "not, nothing;" and is used here as a "negative" to qualify the following word, "He shall deliver even him that is not innocent."

So it is rendered by the Chaldee, by Le Clerc, Rosenmuller, Gesenius, Noyes, and others. The Vulgate and the Septuagint render it, "He shall deliver the innocent." The sense is, that the man who returns to God, and who is regarded by him as his friend, will be able to intercede for the guilty, and to save them from the punishment which they deserved. His prayers and intercessions will be heard in their behalf, and on his account layouts will be shown to them, even when they did not personally deserve them. This sentiment accords with that expressed in Genesis 18:26, "If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes;" Ezekiel 14:14, "Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, they should deliver but their own souls;" compare Ezekiel 22:30; Jeremiah 5:1. The sentiment, also, had a beautiful illustration, though one which Eliphaz did not here think of, in his own case and that of his friends, where this very Job, to whom he was giving this counsel, was directed to intercede for them; Job 42:7-8. The sentiment, indeed, is found every where in the Scriptures, that the righteous are permitted to pray for others, and that they are thus the means of bringing down important blessings on them. In answer to those prayers, multitudes are saved from calamity here, and will be brought to eternal life hereafter.

And it is delivered by the pureness of thine hands - Or, rather, he, i. e., the wicked, for whom you pray, will be delivered by the pureness of thine hands. That is, God will save him in answer to the prayers of a righteous man. Your upright and holy life; your pure hands stretched out in supplication, shall be the means of saving him. No one can tell how many blessings are conferred on wicked people because the righteous pray for them. No one can tell how many a wicked son is spared, and ultimately saved, in answer to the intercessions of a holy parent; nor can the wicked world yet know how much it owes its preservation, and the numberless blessings which it enjoys, to the intercessions of the saints. It is one of the innumerable blessings of being a child of God thus to be permitted to be the means of bringing down blessings on others, and saving sinners from ruin. All the friends of God may thus confer unspeakable benefits to others; and they who have "an interest at the throne of grace" should plead without ceasing for the salvation of guilty and dying people.

CHAPTER 23

THIRD SERIES.

Job 23:1-17. Job's Answer.Job’ s reply: his desire to plead with God, Job 23:1-5; who should not confound, but strengthen him, Job 23:6,7. He cannot behold God’s way; but he walked in the way of his law, Job 23:8-12. God in his providences bringeth about what he had decreed: Job’ s trouble herein, Job 23:13-17.

No text from Poole on this verse.

Then Job answered and said. In reply to Eliphaz; for though he does not direct his discourse to him, nor take any notice of his friends; yet, as a proof of his innocence, against his and their accusations and charges, he desires no other than to have his cause laid before God himself, by whom he had no doubt he should be acquitted; and, contrary to their notions, he shows in this chapter, that he, a righteous man, was afflicted by God, according to his unchangeable decrees; and, in the next, that wicked men greatly prosper; so that what he herein says may be considered as a sufficient answer to Eliphaz and his friends; and after which no more is said to him by them, excepting a few words dropped by Bildad. Then Job answered and said,
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verses 1-24:25. - Job replies to Eliphaz in a speech of no great length, which, though it occupies two chapters, runs to only forty-two verses. He begins by justifying the vehemence of his complaints, first, on the ground of the severity of his sufferings (ver. 2), and secondly, on the ground of his conviction that, if God would bring him to an open trial before his tribunal, he would acquit him (vers. 3-12). By the way, he complains that God hides himself, and cannot be found (vers. 3, 8, 9). He then further complains that God is not to be bent from his purpose, which is set against Job (vers. 13-17). In ch. 24. he goes over ground already trodden, maintaining the general prosperity of the wicked, and their exemption from any special earthly punishment (vers. 2-24). He winds up, finally, with a challenge to his opponents to disprove the truth of what he has said (ver. 25). Verses 1, 2. - Then Job answered and said, Even to-day is my complaint bitter; i.e. even to-day, notwithstanding all that has been said by my opponents against my right to complain, I do complain, and as bitterly as ever. And I justify my complaint on the following ground - my stroke is heavier than my groaning. If I complain bitterly, I suffer even more bitterly (comp. Job 6:2). If he return to the Almighty (שׁוּב עד as freq., e.g., Isaiah 19:22, comp. Isaiah 45:24, instead of the otherwise usual שׁוב אל, of thorough and complete conversion), he will be built up again, by his former prosperity being again raised from its ruins. בּנה, to build, always according to the connection, has at one time the idea of building round about, continuing to build, or finishing building (vid., on Job 20:19); at another of building up again (Job 12:14; Isaiah 58:12), referred to persons, the idea of increasing prosperity (Malachi 3:15), or of the restoration of ruined prosperity (Jeremiah 24:6; Jeremiah 33:7), here in the latter sense. The promissory תּבּנה is surrounded by conditional clauses, for Job 22:23 (comp. Job 11:14) is a second conditional clause still under the government of אם, which is added for embellishment; it opens the statement of that in which penitence must be manifested, if it is to be thorough. The lxx translates ἐὰν δὲ ἐπιστραφῇς καὶ ταπεινώσῃς, i.e., תּענה, which Ewald considers as the original; the omission of the אם (which the poet otherwise in such connections has formerly heaped up, e.g., Job 8:5., Job 11:13) is certainly inconvenient. And yet we should not on that account like to give up the figure indicated in תבנה, which is so beautiful and so suited to our poet. The statement advanced in the latter conditional clause is then continued in Job 22:24 in an independent imperative clause, which the old versions regard as a promise instead of exhortation, and therefore grossly misinterpret. The Targ. translates: and place on the dust a strong city (i.e., thou shalt then, where there is now nothing but dust, raise up such), as if בּצר could be equivalent to בּצּרון or מבצר, - a rendering to which Saadia at least gives a turn which accords with the connection: "regard the stronghold (Arab. 'l-ḥṣn) as dust, and account as the stones of the valleys the gold of Ophir;" better than Eichhorn: "pull down thy stronghold of violence, and demolish (הפיר) the castles of thy valleys." On the other hand, Gecatilia, who understands בצר proportionately more correctly of treasures, translates it as a promise: so shalt thou inherit treasures (Arab. dchâyr) more numerous than dust, and gold ore (Arab. tbr') (more than) the stones of the valleys; and again also Rosenm. (repones prae pulvere argentum) and Welte interpret Job 22:24 as a promise; whereas other expositors, who are true to the imperative שׁית, explain שׁית ni aestimare, and על־עפר pulveris instar (Grot., Cocc., Schult., Dathe, Umbr.), by falsely assigning to על here, as to ל elsewhere, a meaning which it never has anywhere; how blind, on the other hand, since the words in their first meaning, pone super pulverem, furnish an excellent thought which is closely connected with the admonition to rid one's self of unjust possessions. בּצר, like Arab. tibr (by which Abulwalid explains it), is gold and silver ore, i.e., gold and silver as they are broken out of the mine, therefore (since silver is partially pure, gold almost pure, and always containing more or less silver) the most precious metal in its pure natural state before being worked, and consequently also unalloyed (comp. Arab. nḍı̂r and nuḍâr, which likewise signifies aurum argentumve nativum, but not ab excidendo, but a nitore); and "to lay in the dust" is equivalent to, to part with a thing as entirely worthless and devoid of attraction. The meaning is therefore: put away from thee the idol of previous metal with contempt (comp. Isaiah 2:20), which is only somewhat differently expressed in the parallel: lay the Ophir under the quartz (וּבצוּר agreeing with בצר) of the brooks (such as is found in the beds of empty wdys), i.e., place it under the rubble, after it has lost for thee its previous bewitching spell. As cloth woven from the filaments of the nettle is called muslin, from Mossul, and cloth with figures on it "damask, דּמשׁק" (Amos 3:12), from Damascus,

(Note: We leave it undecided whether in a similar manner silk has its name μέταξα (μάταξα), Armenian metaks, Aramaic מטכסא, מטקסין, from Damascus (Ewald and Friedr. Mller).)

and aloes-wood Arab. mndl, from Coromandel; so the gold from Ophir, i.e., from the coast of the Abhra, on the north coast of the Runn (Old Indian Irina, i.e., Salt Sea), east of the mouth of the Indus,

(Note: Thus אופיר has been explained by Lassen in his pamphlet de Pentapotamia, and his Indische Alterthumskunde (i. 539). The lxx (Cod. Vat.) and Theodot. have Σωφείρ, whence Ges. connects Ophir with Arrian's Οὔππαρα and Edrisi's Sufra in Guzerat, especially since Sofir is attested as the Coptic name for India. The matter is still not settled.)

is directly called אופיר. When Job thus casts from him temporal things, by the excessive cherishing of which he has hitherto sinned, then God himself will be his imperishable treasure, his everlasting higher delight. He frees himself from temporal בּצר; and the Almighty, therefore the absolute personality of God himself, will be to him instead of it בּצרים, gold as from the mine, in rich abundance. This is what the contrast of the plur. (בצרך without Jod plur. is a false reading) with the sing. implies; the lxx, Syriac version, Jerome, and Arabic version err here, since they take the בּ of בּצריך as a preposition.

The ancient versions and lexicographers furnish no explanation of תּועפות. The Targ. translates it תּקוף רוּמא, and accordingly it is explained by both חסן (strength) and גבה (height), without any reason being assigned for these significations. In the passage before us the lxx transl. ἀργύριον πεπυρωμένον from עף, in the Targum signification to blow, forge; the Syriac versions, argentum computationum (חושׁבנין), from עף in the Targum-Talmudic signification to double ( equals Hebr. כפל). According to the usage of the language in question, יעף, from the Hiph. of which תועפות is formed, signifies to become feeble, to be wearied; but even if, starting from the primary notion, an available signification is attained for the passage before us (fatigues equals toilsome excitement, synon. יגיע) and Psalm 95:4 (climbings equals heights), the use of the word in the most ancient passages citable, Numbers 23:22; Numbers 24:8, כּתועפת ראם לו, still remains unexplained; for here the notion of being incapable of fatigue, invincibility, or another of the like kind, is required, without any means at hand for rightly deriving it from יעף, to become feeble, especially as the radical signification anhelare supposed by Gesenius (comp. און from the root אן) is unattested. Accordingly, we must go back to the root וף, יף, discussed on Psalm 95:4, which signifies to rise aloft, to be high, and from which יפע, or with a transposition of the consonants יעף (comp. עיף and יעף), acquires the signification of standing out, rising radiantly, shining afar off, since יעף, to become weary, is allied to the Arab. wgf, fut. i; this יעף (יפע), on the other hand, to Arab. yf', ascendere, adolescere, Arab. wf‛, elatum, adultum esse, and Arab. wfâ, eminere, and tropically completum, perfectum esse. Thus we obtain the signification enimentiae for תועפות. In Psalm 95:4, as a numerical plur., it signifies the towerings (tops) of the mountains, and here, as in the passages cited from Numbers, either prominent, eminent attributes, or as an intensive plur. excellence; whence, agreeing with Ewald, we have translated "silver of the brightest lustre" (comp. יפעה, eminentia, splendor, Ezekiel 28:7).

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