Job 26:2
How hast thou helped him that is without power? how savest thou the arm that hath no strength?
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Job 26:2. How hast thou helped him, that is without power? — Thou hast helped excellently! It is an ironical expression, implying quite the contrary, that he had not helped at all. As if he had said, I am a poor helpless creature, my strength and spirits are quite broken with the pains of my body, and the perplexities of my mind; and humanity and religion should have taught thee to support and comfort me, with representations of the goodness and promises of God, and not to terrify and overwhelm me with displaying his sovereign majesty, his glorious holiness, and inflexible justice, the thoughts whereof are already so discouraging and dreadful to me.

26:1-4 Job derided Bildad's answer; his words were a mixture of peevishness and self-preference. Bildad ought to have laid before Job the consolations, rather than the terrors of the Almighty. Christ knows how to speak what is proper for the weary, Isa 50:4; and his ministers should not grieve those whom God would not have made sad. We are often disappointed in our expectations from our friends who should comfort us; but the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, never mistakes, nor fails of his end.How hast thou helped him that is without power? - It has been doubted whether this refers to Job himself, the two friends of Bildad, or to the Deity. Rosenmuller. The connection, however, seems to demand that it should be referred to Job himself. It is sarcastical. Bildad had come as a friend and comforter. He had, also, in common with Eliphaz and Zophar, taken upon himself the office of teacher and counsellor. He had regarded Job as manifesting great weakness in his views of God and of his government; as destitute of all strength to bear up aright under trials, and now all that he had done to aid one so weak was found in the impertinent and irrelevant generalities of his brief speech. Job is indignant that one with such pretensions should have said nothing more to the purpose. Herder, however, renders this as if it related wholly to God, and it cannot be denied that the Hebrew would bear this:

"Whom helpest thou? Him who hath no strength?

Whom dost thou vindicate? Him whose arm hath no power?

To whom give counsel? One without wisdom?

Truly much wisdom hast thou taught him."

How savest thou the arm that hath no strength? - That is, your remarks are not adapted to invigorate the feeble. He had come professedly to comfort and support his afflicted friend in his trials. Yet Job asks what there was in his observations that was fitted to produce this effect? Instead of declaiming on the majesty and greatness of God, he should have said something that was adapted to relieve an afflicted and a troubled soul.

2, 3. without power … no strength … no wisdom—The negatives are used instead of the positives, powerlessness, &c., designedly (so Isa 31:8; De 32:21). Granting I am, as you say (Job 18:17; 15:2), powerlessness itself, &c. "How hast thou helped such a one?"


How hast thou helped? thou hast helped egregiously. It is an ironical expression, implying the quite contrary, that he had not at all helped. See the like, Genesis 3:22 1 Kings 18:27 1 Corinthians 4:8,10.

Him that is without power; either,

1. God, who it seems is weak and unwise, and needed so powerful and eloquent an advocate as thou art to maintain his fights and plead his cause. Or, rather,

2. Job himself: I am a poor helpless creature, my strength and spirits quite broken with the pains of my body and perplexities of my mind, whom nature, and humanity, and religion should have taught thee to support and comfort with a representation of the gracious nature and promises of God, and not to terrify and overwhelm me with displaying his sovereign majesty, the thoughts whereof are already so distractive and dreadful to me.

How hast thou helped him that is without power?.... This verse and Job 26:3 either are to be understood of God, as many do, by reading the words, "who hast thou helped? God" (r)? a fine advocate for him thou art, representing him as if he was without power, and could not help himself, but stood in need of another; as if he had no arm, and could not save and protect himself, but needed one to rise and stand up in his behalf, when he is God omnipotent, and has an arm strong and mighty, and there is none like his; and as if he wanted wisdom, and one to counsel him, when he is the all wise God, and never consults with any of his creatures, or admits them to be of his council; and as if his "essence" (s), or "what he is", as he is, had been very copiously and plentifully declared in a few words by him; in supposing which he must be guilty of the greatest arrogance, stupidity, and folly; and therefore he asks him, who it was he uttered such things unto? and by whose spirit he must be aided in so doing? see Job 13:7; or else Job refers to the cause undertaken by Bildad; and which he, in a sarcastic way, represents as a very weak and feeble one, that had neither strength nor wisdom in it, and was as weakly and as foolishly supported, or rather was entirely neglected and deserted, Bildad having wholly declined the thing in controversy, and said not one word of it; therefore Job ironically asks him, "in what", or "wherein hast thou helped?" (t) what good hast thou done to this poor tottering cause of yours? or what light hast thou thrown upon it? and to what purpose is anything that has been said by thee? Some are of opinion that Job refers to Bildad's friends, whom he represents as weak and stupid, as men of no argument, and had no strength of reasoning, and were as poorly assisted and defended by Bildad: but, why not to Bildad himself? for the sense of the question, agreeably enough to the original text, may be put after this manner; a fine patron and defender of a cause thou art; thou canst help and save a dying cause without power, and with a strengthless arm, or without any force of argument, or strength of reasoning; thou canst give counsel without any wisdom, without any show or share of it, and in half a dozen lines set the thing in a true light, just as it is and should be; a wonderful man indeed thou art! though I choose to join with such interpreters, who understand the whole of Job himself, who was without might and power, a weak and feeble creature in booty and mind, being pressed and broken with the weight of his affliction, but was poorly helped, succoured, strengthened, and comforted, with what Bildad had said: it is the duty of all good men, and it is what Job himself had done in former times, to strengthen weak hands and feeble knees, by sympathizing with persons under affliction, by bearing their burdens and infirmities, by speaking comfortably unto them, and telling them what comforts they themselves have received under afflictions, see Job 4:3; but miserable comforters of Job were Bildad and his friends:

how savest thou the arm that hath no strength? the sense is the same as before, that he had done nothing to relieve Job in his bodily or soul distresses, and save him out of them; nor had contributed in the least towards his support under them; and be it that he was as weak in his intellectuals as he and his friends thought him to be, and had undertaken a cause which he had not strength of argument to defend; yet, what had he done to convince him of his mistake, and save him from the error of his way?

(r) "cui auxiliatis es", Pagninus, Montanus; so Tigurine version. (s) "essentiam", Montanus. (t) "Qua nam re adjuvisti?" Vatablus; "quid auxiliatus es?" Drusius.

{a} How hast thou helped him that is without power? how {b} savest thou the arm that hath no strength?

(a) You concluded nothing, for neither did you help me while destitute of all help, nor yet speak sufficiently on God's behalf, who has no need for your defence.

(b) But you do not apply it to the purpose.

2. how savest thou?] Rather, how hast thou saved? i. e. succoured.

2–4. Job sarcastically expresses his admiration of Bildad’s speech, and gratitude for the help it has been to him.

Job 26:2Instead of the appellation מרומיו, which reminds one of Isaiah 24:21, - where a like peacemaking act of judgment on the part of God is promised in reference to the spirit-host of the heights that have been working seductively among the nations on earth, - גּדוּדיו, of similar meaning to צבאיו, used elsewhere, occurs in this verse. The stars, according to biblical representation, are like an army arrayed for battle, but not as after the Persian representation - as an army divided into troops of the Ahuramazd and Angramainyus (Ahriman), but a standing army of the children of light, clad in the armour of light, under the guidance of the one God the Creator (Isaiah 40:26, comp. the anti-dualistic assertion in Isaiah 45:7). The one God is the Lord among these numberless legions, who commands their reverence, and maintains unity among them; and over whom does not His light arise? Umbr. explains: who does not His light, which He communicates to the hosts of heaven, vanquish (קוּם על in the usual warlike meaning: to rise against any one); but this is a thought that is devoid of purpose in this connection. אורהו with the emphatic suff. hu (as Job 24:23, עיניהוּ) at any rate refers directly to God: His light in distinction from the derived light of the hosts of heaven. This distinction is better brought out if we interpret (Merc., Hirz., Hahn, Schlottm., and others): over whom does (would) not His light arise? i.e., all receive their light from His, and do but reflect it back. But יקוּם equals יזרח cannot be justified by Job 11:17. Therefore we interpret with Ew. and Hlgst. thus: whom does not His light surpass, or, literally, over whom (i.e., which of these beings of light) does it not rise, leaving it behind and exceeding it in brightness (יקוּם as synon. of ירוּם)? How then could a mortal be just with God, i.e., at His side or standing up before Him; and how could one of woman born be spotless! How could he (which is hereby indirectly said) enter into a controversy with God, who is infinitely exalted above him, and maintain before Him a moral character faultless, and therefore absolutely free from condemnation! In the heights of heaven God's decision is revered; and should man, the feeble one, and born flesh of flesh (vid., Job 14:1), dare to contend with God? Behold, עד־ירח (עד, as usually when preceded by a negation, adeo, ne ... quidem, e.g., Exodus 14:28, comp. Nahum 1:10, where J. H. Michaelis correctly renders: adeo up spinas perplexitate aequent, and אל used in the same way, Job 5:5, Ew. 219, c), even as to the moon, it does not (ולא with Waw apod., Ges. 145, 2, although there is a reading לא without ו) shine bright, יאחיל equals יהל, from אהל equals הלל.

(Note: It is worthy of observation, that hilâl signifies in Arabic the new moon (comp. Genesis, S. 307); and the Hiphil ahalla, like the Kal halla, is used of the appearing and shining of the new moon.)

Thus lxx, Targ. Jer., and Gecatilia translate; whereas Saadia translates: it turns not in (Arab. lâ ydchl), or properly, it does not pitch its tent, fix its habitation. But to pitch one's tent is אהל or אהל, whence יהל, Isaiah 13:20, equals יאהל; and what is still more decisive, one would naturally expect יאהיל שׁם in connection with this thought. We therefore render אהל as a form for once boldly used in the scriptural language for הלל, as in Isaiah 28:28 אדשׁ once occurs for דּוּשׁ. Even the moon is only a feeble light before God, and the stars are not clean in His eyes; there is a vast distance between Him and His highest and most glorious creatures - how much more between Him and man, the worm of the dust!

The friends, as was to be expected, are unable to furnish any solution of the mystery, why the ungodly often live and die happily; and yet they ought to be able to give this solution, if the language which they employ against Job were authorized. Bildad alone speaks in the above speech, Zophar is silent. But Bildad does not utter a word that affects the question. This designed omission shows the inability of the friends to solve it, as much as the tenacity with which they firmly maintain their dogma; and the breach that has been made in it, either they will not perceive or yet not acknowledge, because they think that thereby they are approaching too near to the honour of God. Moreover, it must be observed with what delicate tact, and how directly to the purpose in the structure of the whole, this short speech of Bildad's closes the opposition of the friends. Two things are manifest from this last speech of the friends: First, that they know nothing new to bring forward against Job, and nothing just to Job's advantage; that all their darts bound back from Job; and that, though not according to their judgment, yet in reality, they are beaten. This is evident from the fact that Bildad is unable to give any answer to Job's questions, but can only take up the one idea in Job's speech, that he confidently and boldly thinks of being able to approach God's throne of judgment; he repeats with slight variation what Eliphaz has said twice already, concerning the infinite distance between man and God, Job 4:17-21; Job 15:14-16, and is not even denied by Job himself, Job 9:2; Job 14:4. But, secondly, the poet cannot allow us to part from the friends with too great repugnance; for they are Job's friends notwithstanding, and at the close we see them willingly obedient to God's instruction, to go to Job that he may pray for them and make sacrifice on their behalf. For this reason he does not make Bildad at last repeat those unjust incriminations which were put prominently forward in the speech of Eliphaz, Job 22:5-11. Bildad only reminds Job of the universal sinfulness of the human race once again, without direct accusation, in order that Job may himself derive from it the admonition to humble himself; and this admonition Job really needs, for his speeches are in many ways contrary to that humility which is still the duty of sinful man, even in connection with the best justified consciousness of right thoughts and actions towards the holy God.

1 Then Job began, and said:

2 How has thou helped him that is without power,

Raised the arm that hath no strength!

3 How hast thou counselled him that hath no wisdom,

And fully declared the essence of the matter!

4 To whom hast thou uttered words,

And whose breath proceeded from thee?

Bildad is the person addressed, and the exclamations in Job 26:2, Job 26:3 are ironical: how thy speech contains nothing whatever that might help me, the supposedly feeble one, in conquering my affliction and my temptation; me, the supposedly ignorant one, in comprehending man's mysterious lot, and mine! ללא־כח, according to the idea, is only equivalent to כח לו (אין) לאשׁר לא, and זרוע לא־עז equivalent to זרוע בלא־עז (לא עז לו); the former is the abstr. pro concreto, the latter the genitival connection - the arm of the no-power, i.e., powerless (Ges. 152, 1). The powerless one is Job himself, not God (Merc., Schlottm.), as even the choice of the verbs, Job 26:2, Job 26:3, shows. Respecting תּוּשׁיּה, which we have translated essentiality, duration, completion, we said, on Job 5:12, that it is formed from ישׁ (vid., Proverbs 8:21), not directly indeed, but by means of a verb ושׁי brev a fo (ושׁה), in the signification subsistere (comp. Arab. kân, and Syriac קום);

(Note: Comp. also Spiegel, Grammatik der Huzvresch-Sprache, S. 103.)

it is a Hophal-formation (like תּוּגה), and signifies, so to speak, durability, subsistentia, substantia, ὑπόστασις, so that the comparison of ושׁי with אשׁשׁ, Arab. 'ss (whence אשׁישׁ, Arab. ası̂s, asâs, etc., fundamentum) is forced upon one, and the relationship to the Sanskrit as (asmi equals εἰμὶ) can remain undecided. The observation of J. D. Michaelis


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