Job 26:4
To whom hast thou uttered words? and whose spirit came from thee?
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(4) To whom.—That is, “Is it not to one who had said the same thing himself? Was it not my own breath, my own teaching, that came forth from you?” He then proceeds to show that it is not only the starry heavens that declare the glory of God, but the under world likewise, and the universe generally.

Job 26:4. To whom hast thou uttered words — For whose instruction hast thou uttered these things? For mine? Dost thou think I do not know that which the meanest persons are not unacquainted with; that God is incomparably greater and better than his creatures? Whose spirit came from thee — Who inspired thee with this profound discourse of thine?

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.To whom hast thou uttered words? - Jerome renders this, Quem docere voluisti? "Whom do you wish to teach?" The sense is, "Do you attempt to teach me in such a manner, on such a subject? Do you take it that I am so ignorant of the perfections of God, that such remarks about him would convey any real instruction?"

And whose spirit came from thee? - That is, by whose spirit didst thou speak? What claims hast thou to inspiration, or to the uttering of sentiments beyond what man himself could originate? The meaning is, that there was nothing remarkable in what he had said that would show that he had been indebted for it either to God or to the wise and good on earth.

4. For whose instruction were thy words meant? If for me I know the subject (God's omnipotence) better than my instructor; Job 26:5-14 is a sample of Job's knowledge of it.

whose spirit—not that of God (Job 32:8); nay, rather, the borrowed sentiment of Eliphaz (Job 4:17-19; 15:14-16).

For whose instruction hast thou uttered these things? For mine? Dost thou think me to be so ignorant, that I do not know that which the meanest persons are not unacquainted with, to wit, that God is incomparably greater and better than his creatures?

Whose spirit came from thee? so the sense is, Whom hast thou revived or comforted by this discourse? Not me surely. The spirit or breath of a man is in a manner suppressed and intercepted in deep sorrows and consternations, such as Job’s were; and when he is cheered or refreshed, it finds vent and breathes out freely, as it did before. But I do not remember that ever this phrase is used in this sense; but, on the contrary, the giving or restoring of life is expressed by the coming in, and not by the going out, of spirit or breath, as appears from Genesis 2:7 Ezekiel 37:5,6,10. The words therefore are and may be otherwise understood; either thus, Whose spirit or inspiration (as this word signifies, Job 32:8)

came from thee? Who inspired thee with this profound discourse of thine? Was it by Divine inspiration, as thou wouldst have us to believe? or was it not a rash suggestion of thy own vain and foolish mind? Or thus, Whose spirit went out (to wit, of his body, by an ecstasy of admiration) for thee, by reason of thy discourse? I may be thought partial in my censure of it, but thou mayst perceive none of our friends here present admire it, except thyself. Or, To or for whom (the particle eth being here understood out of the former branch, as is usual among the Hebrews) did breath go out from thee, i.e. didst thou speak? For whose good, or to what end, didst thou speak this? God needed it not; I receive no edification or benefit by it.

To whom hast thou uttered words?.... That others know not; dost thou think thou art talking to an ignorant man? be it known to thee, that he knows as much, and can say as much of the Divine Being, of his glories, and of his wondrous ways and works, as thyself, or more: or dost thou consider the circumstances he is in thou art speaking to? one under great affliction and distress, to whom it must be unsuitable to talk of the greatness and majesty of God, of his power and strength, of his purity, holiness, and strict justice; it would have been more proper and pertinent to have discoursed concerning his loving kindness, grace, and mercy, his pity and compassion towards his afflicted people, his readiness to forgive their sins, and overlook their failings; and concerning the promised Redeemer, his righteousness and sacrifice, and of the many instances of divine goodness to the sons of men, and in such like circumstances, by raising them up again, and restoring them to their former happiness. Some things of this nature would have been more pertinent and suitable, and would have been doing both a wise and friendly part:

and whose spirit came from thee? Not the spirit of God; dost thou think thyself inspired by God? or that what thou hast said is by the inspiration of his Spirit? or that thou speakest like such who are moved by the Holy Ghost? nor indeed was it his own spirit, or the words and things uttered were not of himself, or flowed not from his own knowledge and understanding: of things, but what he had borrowed from Eliphaz; for he had delivered very little more than what Eliphaz had said, Job 4:17; or else the sense is, whose spirit has been restored, revived, refreshed, and comforted by what thou hast said? The word of God has such efficacy as to restore the soul, to revive it when drooping, and as it were swooning away and dying, see Psalm 19:7; and the words of some good men are spirit and life, the savour of life unto life, and are as life from the dead, very refreshing and comforting; but no such effect followed on what Bildad had said. Mr. Broughton renders the words, "whose soul admired thee?" thou mayest admire thyself, and thy friends may admire thee, at least thou mayest think they do, having said in thine own opinion admirable things; but who else does? for my own part I do not; and, if saying great and glorious things of God are to any purpose in the controversy between us, I am capable of speaking greater and better things than what have been delivered; and, for instance, let the following be attended to.

To whom hast thou uttered words? and whose spirit {c} came from thee?

(c) That is, moves you to speak this?

4. to whom hast thou uttered words?] Job refers to himself and asks, Who is it that thou hast spoken such things to? The same feeling of conscious superiority to his friends and disdain of the instructions they were giving him reappears here, which came out already in ch. Job 12:4. It is the same feeling as was expressed by the magnates of Jerusalem in reference to the continual harping of Isaiah: “Whom will he teach knowledge, and whom will he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk and drawn from the breast?” Has he children before him that he gives precept upon precept, line upon line, &c.? Isaiah 28:9.

and whose spirit came from thee?] Or, came forth from thee. Job asks, Under what lofty inspiration hast thou spoken? Is it, indeed, the very spirit of God that has found expression through thy mouth? The words carry a sarcastic reference to the poverty of Bildad’s speech, possibly also to the oracular air with which it was uttered.

Verse 4. - To whom hast thou uttered words? Whom didst thou intend to address? Surely not me, since thy words touch none of my arguments. And whose spirit came from thee? Who prompted thy speech? Was it Eliphaz (comp. Job 4:17-19)? Job 26:4Instead 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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