Job 31:26
If I beheld the sun when it shined, or the moon walking in brightness;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(26) If I beheld the sun.—It is remarkable that the kind of idolatry repudiated by Job is that only of sun and moon worship. He seems to have been ignorant of the more material and degraded kinds.

Job 31:26-27. If I beheld the sun when it shined — Namely, in its full strength and glory; when it most affected men’s minds and hearts with admiration of its beauty, and of the benefits which it is instrumental in communicating to the world, and thereby moved them to worship it; or the moon walking in brightness — When it shined most clearly, or was at the full, at which time especially the idolaters worshipped it. Job, in this passage, evidently speaks of the worship of the host of heaven, and especially of the sun and moon, the most eminent and glorious of that number, which was the most ancient kind of idolatry, and most frequent in the eastern countries. And my heart hath been enticed — Or seduced, or deceived, by their plausible and glorious appearances, to believe that there was something of a divinity in them, and so should be induced to worship them, and that secretly, or inwardly, in my thoughts or affections, while I professed outwardly to adhere to God and the true religion. This emphatical expression, enticed, seems to be used here with a design to teach the world this necessary and important truth: that no mistake, or error of mind, would excuse the practice of idolatry. My mouth hath kissed my hand — In token of worship, whereof this was a sign.31:24-32 Job protests, 1. That he never set his heart upon the wealth of this world. How few prosperous professors can appeal to the Lord, that they have not rejoiced because their gains were great! Through the determination to be rich, numbers ruin their souls, or pierce themselves with many sorrows. 2. He never was guilty of idolatry. The source of idolatry is in the heart, and it corrupts men, and provokes God to send judgments upon a nation. 3. He neither desired nor delighted in the hurt of the worst enemy he had. If others bear malice to us, that will not justify us in bearing malice to them. 4. He had never been unkind to strangers. Hospitality is a Christian duty, 1Pe 4:9.If I beheld the sun when it shined - Margin, light. The Hebrew word (אור 'ôr) properly means light, but that it here means the sun is manifest from the connection, since the moon occurs in the parallel member of the sentence. Why the word light is used here rather than sun, can be only a matter of conjecture. It may be because the worship to which Job refers was not primarily and originally that of the sun, the moon, or the stars, but of light as such, and that he mentions this as the essential feature of the idolatry which he had avoided. The worship of light in general soon became in fact the worship of the sun - as that is the principal source of light. There is no doubt that Job here refers to idolatrous worship, and the passage is particularly valuable, as it describes one of the forms of idolatry then existing, and refers to some of the customs then prevalent in such worship.

The word light is used, also, to denote the sun in Job 37:2 l; compare Isaiah 18:4; Habakkuk 3:4. So, also, Homer speaks of the sun not only as λαμπρὸν φάος ἡελίοιο lampron faos hēelioio - bright light of the sun, but simply as φάος faos - light. Odyssey r. 335. The worship here referred to is that of the heavenly bodies, and it is known that this existed in the early periods of the world, and was probably one of the first forms of idolatry. It is expressly mentioned by Ezekiel as prevailing in his time, Ezekiel 8:16, "And they worshipped the sun toward the east." That it prevailed in the time of Moses, is evident from the caution which he gives in Deuteronomy 4:19; compare 2 Kings 23:5. It is well known, also, that the worship of the heavenly bodies was common in the East, and particularly in Chaldea - near to which Job is supposed to have lived, and it was a remarkable fact that one who was surrounded with idolaters of this description had been enabled always to keep himself pure.

The principle on which this worship was founded was, probably, that of gratitude. People adored the objects from which they derived important benefits, as well as deprecated the wrath of those which were supposed to exert a malignant influence. But among the objects from which people derived the greatest benefits were the sun and moon, and hence, they were objects of worship. The stars, also, were supposed to exert important influences over people, and hence, they also early became objects of adoration. An additional reason for the worship of the heavenly bodies may have been, that light was a natural and striking symbol of the divinity, and those shining bodies may have been at first honored as representatives of the Deity. The worship of the heavenly bodies was called Sabaism, from the Hebrew word צבא tsâbâ' - host, or army - as being the worship of the hosts of heaven.

It is supposed to have had its origin in Persia, and to have spread thence to the West. That the moon was worshipped as a deity, is abundantly proved by the testimony of the ancient writers. Hottinger, Hist. Orient. Lib. 1:c. 8, speaking of the worship of the Zabaists, adduces the testimony of Ali Said Vaheb, saying that the first day of the week was devoted to the sun; the second to the moon; the third to Mars, etc. Maimonides says that the Zabaists worshipped the moon, and that they also said that Adam led mankind to that species of worship. Mor. Nev. P. 3: Clemens Alexandr. says (in Protrepto) κὰι προσεκίνησαν ἥλιον ὡς ἰνδοὶ κὰι σελήνην ὡς φρύγες kai prosekinēsan hēlion hōs indoi kai selēnēn hōs fruges. Curtius says of the people of Lybia (Liv. iv. in Melp.) θυὸνσι δὲ ἡλίῳ κὰι οελήνη μόυνοισι thuousi de hēliō kai oelēnē mounoisi.

Julius Caesar says of the Germans, that they worshipped the moon, Lib. 6: de B. G. p. 158. The Romans had a temple consecrated to the moon, Taci. Ann. Lib. 15: Livy, L. 40: See Geor. Frid. Meinhardi Diss. de Selenolatria, in Ugolin's Thesau. Sacr. Tom. 23:p. 831ff. Indeed, we have a proof of the worship of the moon in our own language, in the name given to the second day of the week - Monday, i. e. moon-day, implying that it was formerly regarded as devoted to the worship of the moon. The word "beheld" in the passage before us must be understood in an idolatrous sense. "If I have looked upon the sun as an object of worship." Schultens explains this passage as referring to splendid and exalted characters, who, on account of their brilliance and power, may be compared to the sun at noon-day, and to the moon in its brightness. But the more obvious and common reference is to the sun and moon as objects of worship.

Or the moon walking in brightness - Margin, bright. The word "walking," here applied to the moon, may refer either to its course through the heavens, or it may mean, as Dr. Good supposes, advancing to her full; "brightly, or splendidly progressive." The Septuagint renders the passage strangely enough. "Do we not see the shining sun eclipsed? and the moon changing? For it is not in them."

26. If I looked unto the sun (as an object of worship) because he shined; or to the moon because she walked, &c. Sabaism (from tsaba, "the heavenly hosts") was the earliest form of false worship. God is hence called in contradistinction, "Lord of Sabaoth." The sun, moon, and stars, the brightest objects in nature, and seen everywhere, were supposed to be visible representatives of the invisible God. They had no temples, but were worshipped on high places and roofs of houses (Eze 8:16; De 4:19; 2Ki 23:5, 11). The Hebrew here for "sun" is light. Probably light was worshipped as the emanation from God, before its embodiments, the sun, &c. This worship prevailed in Chaldea; wherefore Job's exemption from the idolatry of his neighbors was the more exemplary. Our "Sun-day," "Mon-day," or Moon-day, bear traces of Sabaism. If I beheld; not simply, nor only with admiration; (for it is a glorious work of God, which we ought to contemplate and admire;) but for the end here following, or so as to ascribe to it the honour peculiar to God.

The sun, Heb. the light, to wit, the sun, as appears by the opposition of the

moon following, which is called the light here, and Genesis 1:16 Psalm 136:7,8, by way of eminency, because it is the great light, and the fountain of light to this visible world. And this is understood either,

1. Of Job’s worldly glory or prosperity, which is oft compared to light in Scripture, as the contrary is to darkness. And so the sense of these and the following words is, If I reflected upon my wealth and glory with pride, and admiration, and satisfaction. But this he had now mentioned in plain and proper terms, Job 31:25, and therefore it is not likely that he should now repeat the same thing in dark and metaphorical expressions. And although this be a great sin before God, yet this is not one of those sins which fall under the cognizance of human judges, as it here follows, Job 31:28. Or rather,

2. Of the sun in the firmament; and so this place speaks of the idolatrous; worship of the host of heaven, and especially of the sun and moon, the most eminent and glorious of that number, which was the most ancient kind of idolatry, and was most frequent in the Eastern countries, in one of which Job lived.

When it shined, i.e. in its full strength and glory; for then it did most affect men’s eyes and hearts with admiration at its beauty and benefits, and so move them to adore it. Or, when it began to shine, (the complete verb being used of the beginning of it, as he reigned is oft put for he began to reign,) i.e. at its first rising, which was a special and the chief time for its adoration. Walking in brightness; when it shines most clearly; or when it is at the full, for then especially did the idolaters worship it. If I beheld the sun when it shined,.... Some take this to be a reason why Job did not make gold his hope and confidence, because all sublunary and earthly enjoyments must be uncertain, fading, and perish, since the sun and moon are not without their deficiencies and changes, to which sense the Septuagint version inclines; others, as Nachmanides, that they are a denial that Job ascribed his wealth and substance to the influence of the heavenly bodies; and many interpreters are of opinion that they are a continuation of the same subject as before; Job hereby declaring that neither his eye nor his heart were set upon his outward prosperity, comparable to the light of the sun, and the brightness of the moon; that he did not secretly please himself with it, nor congratulate himself upon it nor applaud his own wisdom and industry; and of late Schultens and others interpret it of flattering great personages, complimenting: them, and courting their favour, which we call worshipping the rising sun; but I rather think it is to be understood, as it more generally is, of worshipping the sun and moon in a literal sense; which was the first kind of idolatry men went into; those very ancient idolaters, the Zabii, worshipped the sun as their greater god, as Maimonides (a) observes, to whom he says they offered seven bats, seven mice, and seven other creeping things, with some other things also; in later times horses were offered to it, see 2 Kings 23:11. So the ancient Egyptians worshipped the sun and moon, calling the one Osiris, and the other Isis (b). The word for sun is "light", and it is so called because it is a luminous body, and the fountain of light to others; it is called the greater light, Genesis 1:16; and from this Hebrew word "or", with the Egyptians, Apollo, who is the sun, is called Horus, as Macrobius (c) relates; it is said to "shine", as it always does, even when below our horizon, or in an eclipse, or under a cloud, though not seen by us. Job has here respect to its shining clearly and visibly, and perhaps at noon day, when it is in its full strength; unless regard is had to its bright and shining appearance at its rising, when the Heathens used to pay their homage and adoration to it (d): now when Job denies that he beheld it shining, it cannot be understood of the bare sight of it, which he continually had; nor of beholding it with delight and pleasure, which might be very lawfully done, Ecclesiastes 11:7; nor of considering it as the work of God, being a very glorious and useful creature, in which his glory is displayed, and for which he is to be praised, because of its beneficial influence on the earth; see Psalm 8:3; but of his beholding it with admiration, as if it was more than a creature, ascribing deity to it, and worshipping it as God; and the same must be understood of the moon in the next clause:

or the moon walking in brightness; as at first rising, or rather when in the full, in the middle of the month, as Aben Ezra; when it walks all night, in its brightness, illuminated by the sun: these two luminaries, the one called the king, the other the queen of heaven, were very early worshipped, if not the first instances of idolatry. Diodorus Siculus (e) says, that the first men of old, born in Egypt, beholding and admiring the beauty of the world, thought there were two gods in the nature of the universe, and that they were eternal; namely, the sun and moon, the one they called Osiris, and the other Isis; hence the Israelites, having dwelt long in Egypt, were in danger of being drawn into this idolatry, against which they are cautioned, Deuteronomy 4:19; and where was a city called Heliopolis, or the city of the sun, as in the Greek version of Isaiah 19:18; where was a temple dedicated to the worship of it; and so the Arabians, the neighbours of Job, according to Herodotus (f), worshipped the sun and moon; for he says the Persians were taught by them and the Assyrians to sacrifice to the sun and moon; and so did the old Canaanites and the Phoenicians; hence one of their cities is called Bethshemesh, the house or temple of the sun, Joshua 19:22, yea, we are told (g), that to this day there are some traces of this ancient idolatry in Arabia, the neighbourhood of Job; as in a large city in Arabia, upon the Euphrates, called Anna, where they worship the sun only; this being common in those parts in Job's time, he purges himself from it.

(a) Moreh Nevochim, par. 3. c. 29. p. 424. (b) Diodor. Sic. l. 1. p. 10. (c) Saturnal. l. 1. c. 21. (d) "Illi ad surgentem conversi limina solem", Virgil. Aeneid. 12. (e) Bibliothec. l. 1. c. 10. (f) Clio, sive, l. 1. c. 131. (g) De la Valle Itinerar. par. 2. c. 9. apud Spanheim. Hist. Job. c. 6. sect. 14. No. 6. p. 108, 109.

If I beheld the {r} sun when it shined, or the moon walking in brightness;

(r) If I was proud of my worldly prosperity and happiness, which is meant by the shining of the sun, and brightness of the moon.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 26. - If I beheld the sun when it shined; literally, the light; i.e. the great light, which God made to rule the day (Genesis 1:16). Sun-worship, the least ignoble form of idolatry, was widely spread in the East, and in Egypt, from a very early date. According to the views of some, the religion el' t e Egyptians was little else than a complicated sun-worship from its earliest inception to its very latest phase. "The religious notions of the Egyptians," says Dr. Birch, "were chiefly connected with the worship of the sun, with whom at a later period all the principal deities were connected. As Hag, or Harmachis, he represented the youthful or rising sun; as Ra, the midday; and as Turn. the setting sun. According to Egyptian notions, that god floated in a boat through the sky or celestial ether, and descended to the dark regions of night, or Hades. Many deities attended on his passage or were connected with his worship, and the gods Amen and Khepr, who represented the invisible and self-produced god, were identified with the sun" ('Egypt from the Earliest Times,' Introduction, pp. 9, 10.). Even those who do not go these lengths admit that the solar worship was, at any rate, a very main element in the cult of Egypt (see the author's 'History of Ancient Egypt,' vol. 1. pp. 342-364). In the Babylonian and Assyrian religion the position of the sun-god was leas prominent, but still, as San, or Shamas, he held an important place, and was the main object of religious veneration to a largo body of worshippers ('Ancient Monarchies,' vol. 1. pp. 126-128; vol. 2. pp. 17, 18). In the Vedic system the sun figured as Mitra, and in the Zoroastrian as Mithra, in both holding a high position. Among the Arabians the sun, worshipped as Orotal, is said to have been anciently the only god, though he was accompanied by a female principle named Alilat (Herod., 3:8). Or the moon walking in brightness. The worship of the moon has. in most countries where it has prevailed, been quite secondary and subordinate to that of the sun. In Egypt. while nine gods are more or less identified with the solar luminary, two only, Khons and Thoth, can be said to represent the moon. In the Vedic and Zoroastrian systems the moon, called Soma, or Hems, almost dropped out of the popular religion, at any rate as a moon-god. In the Arabiun, Alilat, a goddess, probably represented the moon, as did Ashtoreth, a goddess, in the Pheonician. In Assyria, however, and in Babylonia, moon-worship held a higher position, Sin, the moon-god, taking precedence over Shamas, the sun-god, and being a very much more important personage (see 'Ancient Monarchies,' vol. 1. pp. 123-126; vol. 2. pp. 16, 17). Thus both moon-worship and sun-worship were prevalent among all, or almost all, Job's neighbours. 19 If I saw one perishing without clothing,

And that the needy had no covering;

20 If his loins blessed me not,

And he did not warm himself from the hide of my lambs;

21 If I have lifted up my hand over the orphan,

Because I saw my help in the gate:

22 Let my shoulder fall out of its shoulder-blade,

And mine arm be broken from its bone;

23 For terror would come upon me, the destruction of God,

And before His majesty I should not be able to stand.

On אובד comp. on Job 4:11; Job 29:13; he who is come down from his right place and is perishing (root בד, to separate, still perfectly visible through the Arab. bâda, ba‛ida, to perish), or also he who is already perished, periens and perditus. The clause, Job 31:19, forms the second obj. to אם אראה, which otherwise signifies si video, but here, in accordance with the connection, signifies si videbam. The blessing of the thankful (Job 29:13) is transferred from the person to the limbs in Job 31:20, which need and are benefited by the warmth imparted. אם־לא here is not an expression of an affirmative asseveration, but a negative turn to the continuation of the hypothetical antecedents. The shaking, הניף, of the hand, Job 31:21, is intended, like Isaiah 11:15; Isaiah 19:16 (comp. the Pilel, Isaiah 10:32), Zechariah 2:13, as a preparation for a crushing stroke. Job refrained himself from such designs upon the defenceless orphan, even when he saw his help in the gate, i.e., before the tribunal (Job 29:7), i.e., even when he had a certain prospect or powerful assistance there. If he has acted otherwise, his כּתף, i.e., his upper arm together with the shoulder, must fall out from its שׁכם, i.e., the back which bears it together with the shoulder-blades, and his אזרע, upper and lower arm, which is considered here according to its outward flesh, must be broken out of its קנה, tube, i.e., the reed-like hollow bone which gives support to it, i.e., be broken asunder from its basis (Syr. a radice sua), this sinning arm, which did not compassionate the naked, and mercilessly threatened the defenceless and helpless. The ת raphatum which follows in both cases, and the express testimony of the Masora, show that משּׁכמה and מקּנה have no Mappik. The He quiescens, however, is in both instances softened from the He mappic. of the suff., Ew. 21,f. פּחד in Job 31:23 is taken by most expositors as predicate: for terror is (was) to me evil as God, the righteous judge, decrees it. But אלי is not favourable to this. It establishes the particular thing which he imprecates upon himself, and that consequently which, according to his own conviction and perception, ought justly to overtake him out of the general mass, viz., that terror ought to come upon him, a divine decreed weight of affliction. איד אל is a permutative of פחד equals פחד אלהים, and אלי with Dech equivalent to אלי (יבא) יהיה, comp. Jeremiah 2:19 (where it is to be interpreted: and that thou lettest no fear before me come over thee). Thus also Job 31:23 is suitably connected with the preceding: and I should not overcome His majesty, i.e., I should succumb to it. The מן corresponds to the prae in praevalerem; שׂאת (lxx falsely, λῆμμα, judgment, decision equals משׂא, Jer. pondus) is not intended otherwise than Job 13:11 (parall. פחד as here).

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