Job 31:28
This also were an iniquity to be punished by the judge: for I should have denied the God that is above.
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(28) By the judge.—Rather, perhaps, by my judge, i.e., God; unless, indeed, there be any reference to the Mosaic law (Deuteronomy 17:2-7), which does not seem likely.

Job 31:28. This also were an iniquity — No less than the other fore- mentioned sins of adultery, oppression, &c.; to be punished by the judge — The civil magistrate; who, being advanced and protected by God, is obliged to maintain and vindicate his honour, and consequently to punish idolatry. For I should have denied God — Not directly, but by consequence, because this was to rob God of his prerogative, by giving to the creature that worship which is peculiar to God.

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.This also were an iniquity to be punished by the judqe - Note Job 31:11. Among the Hebrews idolatry was an offence punishable by death by stoning; Deuteronomy 17:2-7. It is possible, also, that this might have been elsewhere in the patriarchal times a crime punishable in this manner. At all events, Job regarded it as a heinous offence, and one of which the magistrate ought to take cognizance.

For I should have denied the God that is above - The worship of the heavenly bodies would have been in fact the denial of the existence of any Superior Being. This, in fact, always occurs, for idolaters have no knowledge of the true God.

28. The Mosaic law embodied subsequently the feeling of the godly from the earliest times against idolatry, as deserving judicial penalties: being treason against the Supreme King (De 13:9; 17:2-7; Eze 8:14-18). This passage therefore does not prove Job to have been subsequent to Moses. This also, no less than the other forementioned sins, adultery, oppression, &c.

By the judge, i.e. by the civil magistrate; who being advanced and protected by God, is obliged to maintain and vindicate his honour, and consequently to punish idolatry. And this did not cease to be his duty, although the magistrates of the world in Job’s time were so far from this, that they themselves also were idolaters. Yet considering that both Job and his friends, who lived in his time and neighbourhood, were most probably the posterity or kindred of Abraham and his family, and by him or his instructed in the knowledge of the true God, and were also men of great power and authority in their places; it seems most likely that they did restrain and punish idolatry in their several jurisdictions, or at least in their own large and numerous families, where the masters anciently had power of life and death without control.

I should have denied God; not directly, (for nothing is more evident than this, that divers of the wiser heathens, who did worship the sun and moon, did yet acknowledge and adore the sovereign and supreme God over and above all,) but by consequence and construction, because this was to rob God of his prerogative, by giving to the creature that religious honour or worship which is peculiar to God.

That is above; who is above the sun and moon, not only in place, his glorious mansion and palace being far above all visible heavens, but also in power and dignity, or adorable excellency.

This also were an iniquity to be punished by the judge,.... As well as adultery, Job 31:11; by the civil magistrates and judges of the earth, who are God's vicegerents, and therefore it behooves them to take cognizance of such an iniquity, and to punish for it, which affects in so peculiar a manner the honour and worship of the true God; this by the law of Moses was punished by stoning to death, Deuteronomy 13:9; however this will be taken notice of and punished by God the Judge of all, whose law is broken hereby, and who will visit this iniquity more especially on those who commit it, and their posterity after them. Idolaters of every sort shall have their part and portion in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, Exodus 20:3; the consideration of its being such a heinous sin, and so deserving of punishment, deterred Job from it; the Targum paraphrases it, a most amazing iniquity, it being, as follows, a denial of the true God:

for I should have denied the God that is above; that is, had he worshipped the sun and moon secretly or openly; for, as the atheist denies him in words, the idolater denies him in facts, worshipping the creature besides the Creator, and giving his glory to another, and his praise to idols; which is a virtual denial of him, even of him who is above the sun and moon in place, being higher than the heavens; and in nature, excellency, and glory, being the Creator of them, and they his creatures; and in power and authority, who commands the sun, and it rises not, and has appointed the moon for seasons, Job 9:7.

This also were an iniquity to be punished by the judge: for I should have denied the God that is {t} above.

(t) By putting confidence in anything but in him alone.

28. Comp. Deuteronomy 4:19; Deuteronomy 17:3-7. Such adoration would have been a “denial” of, or a being false to, God, the one spiritual God, above. Much more than a thousand years later Mohammed has still to say to his Arabs, “Worship not the sun, neither the moon: but worship God who created them,” Kor. ch. 41. A pretty fable is told also of Abraham—“When night closed over him he saw a star, and said, This is my Lord; but when it set he said, I love not those that set. And when he saw the moon appearing he said, This is my Lord; but when it set he said, Surely if my Lord direct me not aright I shall be of the people that go astray. And when he saw the sun rising he said, This is my Lord, this is the greatest; but when it set he said, O my people, verily I am clear of what ye associate with God; verily I have turned my face towards Him who hath created heaven and earth,” &c. Kor. ch. 6:76.

Verse 28. - This also were an iniquity to be punished by the judge (see the comment on ver. 11, adfin.). It is rightly concluded from this expression that, in the country and age of Job, the sort of idolatry which is here mentioned was practised by some, and also that it was legally punishable. For I should have denied the God that is above. The worship of any other god besides the supreme God is, practically, atheism, since "no man can serve two masters." Moreover, to set up two independent gods is to destroy the idea of God, which implies supremacy over every other being. Job 31:2824 If I made gold my confidence,

And said to the fine gold: O my trust;

25 If I rejoiced that my wealth was great,

And that my hand had gained much; -

26 If I saw the sunlight when it shone,

And the moon walking in splendour,

27 And my heart was secretly enticed,

And I threw them a kiss by my hand:

28 This also would be a punishable crime,

For I should have played the hypocrite to God above.

Not only from covetous extortion of another's goods was he conscious of being clear, but also from an excessive delight in earthly possessions. He has not made gold his כּסל, confidence (vid., on כּסלתך, Job 4:6); he has not said to כּתם, fine gold (pure, Job 28:19, of Ophir, Job 28:16), מבטחי (with Dag. forte implicitum as Job 8:14; Job 18:14): object (ground) of my trust! He has not rejoiced that his wealth is great (רב, adj.), and that his hand has attained כּבּיר, something great (neutral masc. Ew. 172, b). His joy was the fear of God, which ennobles man, not earthly things, which are not worthy to be accounted as man's highest good. He indeed avoided πλεονεξία as εἰλωλολατρεία (Colossians 3:5), how much more the heathenish deification of the stars! אור is here, as Job 37:21 and φάος in Homer, the sun as the great light of the earth. ירח is the moon as a wanderer (from רח equals ארח), i.e., night-wanderer (noctivaga), as the Arab. târik in a like sense is the name of the morning-star. The two words יקר הלד describe with exceeding beauty the solemn majestic wandering of the moon; יקר is acc. of closer definition, like תמים, Psalm 15:2, and this "brilliantly rolling on" is the acc. of the predicate to אראה, corresponding to the כּי יחל, "that (or how) it shoots forth rays" (Hiph. of הלל, distinct from יחל Isaiah 13:20), or even: that it shot forth rays (fut. in signif. of an imperf. as Genesis 48:17).

Job 31:27 proceeds with futt. consec. in order to express the effect which this imposing spectacle of the luminaries of the day and of the night might have produced on him, but has not. The Kal ויּפתּ is to be understood as in Deuteronomy 11:16 (comp. ib. iv. 19, נדּח): it was enticed, gave way to the seducing influence. Kissing is called נשׁק as being a joining of lip to lip. Accordingly the kiss by hand can be described by נשׁקה יד לפה; the kiss which the mouth gives the hand is to a certain extent also a kiss which the hand gives the mouth, since the hand joins itself to the mouth. Thus to kiss the hand in the direction of the object of veneration, or also to turn to it the kissed hand and at the same time the kiss which fastens on it (as compensation for the direct kiss, 1 Kings 19:18; Hosea 13:2), is the proper gesture of the προσκύνησις and adoratio mentioned; comp. Pliny, h. n. xxviii. 2, 5; Inter adorandum dexteram ad osculum referimus et totum corpus circumagimus. Tacitus, Hist. iii. 24, says that in Syria they value the rising sun; and that this was done by kissing the hand (τῆν χεῖρα κύσαντες) in Western Asia as in Greece, is to be inferred from Lucians Περὶ ὀρχήσεως, c. xvii.

(Note: Vid., Freund's Lat. Wrterbuch s. v. adorare, and K. Fr. Hermann's Gottesdienstliche Alterth. der Griechen, c. xxi. 16, but especially Excursus 123 in Dougtaeus' Analecta.)

In the passage before us Ew. finds an indication of the spread of the Zoroaster doctrine in the beginning of the seventh century b.c., at which period he is of opinion the book of Job was composed, but without any ground. The ancient Persian worship has no knowledge of the act of adoration by throwing a kiss; and the Avesta recognises in the sun and moon exalted genii, but created by Ahuramazda, and consequently not such as are to be worshipped as gods. On the other hand, star-worship is everywhere the oldest and also comparatively the purest form of heathenism. That the ancient Arabs, especially the Himjarites, adored the sun, שׁמשׁ, and the moon, שׂין (סין, whence סיני, the mountain dedicated to the moon), as divine, we know from the ancient testimonies,


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