Job 31:31
If the men of my tabernacle said not, Oh that we had of his flesh! we cannot be satisfied.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(31) Oh that we had of his flesh!—We should never be satisfied therewith. (Comp. the similar expression, Job 19:22.)

Job 31:31-32. If the men of my tabernacle — My domestics and familiar friends; said not, O that we had of his flesh! — Heath and Schultens read the words, Who can show the man that hath not filled himself with his victuals? And many commentators understand Job as asserting here, that it was a common thing among those who lived in his family, on beholding his boundless beneficence, to cry out, “Who is there that has not eaten of his flesh?” That is, who has not tasted of his generosity? Others consider it as an exclamation of gratitude, uttered by those who were sustained by Job; as if he had said, O that we had wherewithal to support ourselves, that we might not thus be a burden to this generous man; that we might not be obliged thus to feed upon his flesh or substance! But the connection of the words with the preceding seems most apparent if we understand them as an amplification, and further confirmation, of Job’s charitable disposition toward his enemies. Although his cause was so just, and the malice of his enemies so notorious and unreasonable, that all who were daily conversant with him, and were witnesses of his and their carriage, were so zealous in his quarrel, that they protested they could eat their very flesh; yet he restrained both them and himself from executing vengeance upon them. The stranger — Or traveller, as it follows; did not lodge in the street —

But in my house, according to the laws of hospitality; see Genesis 18:3; Genesis 19:2.31:24-32 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 the men of my tabernacle - The men of my tent; or those who dwell with me. The reference is doubtless to those who were in his employ, and who, being constantly with him, had an opportunity to observe his manner of life. On this verse there has been a great variety of exposition, and interpreters are by no means agreed as to its meaning. Herder connects it with the previous verse, and renders it,

"No! my tongue uttered no evil word,

Nor any imprecation against him,

When the men of my tent said,

'O that we had his flesh, it would satisfy us.'"

That is, though he were the bitterest enemy of my house, and all were in open violence. Noyes translates it,

"Have not the men of my tent exclaimed,

'Who is there that hath not been satisfied with his meat?'"

Umbreit supposes that it is designed to celebrate the benevolence of Job, and that the meaning is, that all his companions - the inmates of his house - could bear him witness that not one of the poor was allowed to depart without being satisfied with his hospitality. They were abundantly fed, and their needs supplied. The verse is undoubtedly to be regarded as connected, as Ikenius supposes, with the following, and is designed to illustrate the hospitality of Job. His object is to show that those who dwelt with him, and who had every opportunity of knowing all about him, could never say that the stranger was not hospitably entertained. The phrase, "If the men of my tabernacle said not," means, that a case never occurred in which they could not make use of the language which follows, they never could say that the stranger was not hospitably entertained.

Oh that we had - The phrase נתן מי mı̂y nâthan, commonly means, "O that" - as the Latin Utinam - implying a wish or desire. See Job 19:23; Job 31:35. But here the phrase seems to be used in the sense of "Who will give, or who will show or furnish" (compare Job 14:4); and the sense is, "Who will refer to one instance in which the stranger has not been hospitably entertained?"

Of his flesh! we cannot be satisfied - Or, rather, "Who will refer to an instance in which it can be said that we have not been satisfied from his flesh, that is, from his table, or by his hospitality?" The word flesh here cannot mean, as our translation would seem to imply, the flesh of Job himself, as if it were to be torn and lacerated with a spirit of revenge, but that which his table furnished by a generous hospitality. The Septuagint renders this, "If my maid-servants have often said, O that we had some of his flesh to eat! while I was living luxuriously." For a great variety of opinions on the passage, see Schultens in loc. The above interpretation of Ikenius is the most simple, natural, and obvious of any which have been proposed, and is adopted by Schultens and Rosenmuller.

31. That is, Job's household said, Oh, that we had Job's enemy to devour, we cannot rest satisfied till we have! But Job refrained from even wishing revenge (1Sa 26:8; 2Sa 16:9, 10). So Jesus Christ (Lu 9:54, 55). But, better (see Job 31:32), translated, "Who can show (literally, give) the man who was not satisfied with the flesh (meat) provided by Job?" He never let a poor man leave his gate without giving him enough to eat. The men of my tabernacle, i.e. my domestics and familiar friends, who were much conversant with me in my house, and were witnesses of my carriage to others, and of their carriages to me, and therefore best able to judge in the case.

Of his flesh; either,

1. Of Job’s flesh, which is thought to be an expression either,

1. Of their fervent love to him, caused by his great tenderness and kindness to them. But his meek and gentle carriage to his servants he had expressed before in plain terms, Job 31:13; and therefore it is not likely he would repeat it, at least in such an obscure and ambiguous phrase, as is no where used in this sense, and is used in a contrary sense, Job 19:22. Or,

2. Of their hatred and rage against him, for the excessive trouble he put upon them in the entertainment of strangers, which follows, Job 31:32. But it is very improbable, either that so just and merciful a man as Job would put intolerable burdens upon his servants; or that some extraordinary trouble brought upon them by hospitality would inflame them to such a height of rage as this phrase implies, against so excellent and amiable a master. Or,

2. Of the flesh and other provisions made by Job for strangers: He feeds them liberally, but scarce alloweth us time to satisfy ourselves therewith; which also is very unlikely. Or rather,

3. Of the flesh of Job’s enemy, of whom he last spoke, Job 31:29,30. And so this is an amplification and further confirmation of Job’s charitable disposition and carriage to his enemy, although his cause was so just, and the malice of his enemies was so notorious and unreasonable, that all who were daily conversant with him, and were witnesses of his and their mutual carriages, did condemn and abhor them for it, and were so concerned and zealous in Job’s quarrel, that they protested they could eat their very flesh, and could not be satisfied without it. And yet notwithstanding all these provocations of others, he restrained both them and himself from executing vengeance upon them, as David afterwards did in a like case, 1 Samuel 24:4 2 Samuel 16:9,10.

We cannot be satisfied, to wit, without eating his flesh. If the men of my tabernacle,.... Either his friends, that came to visit him, and take a meal with him, and would sometimes tarry awhile with him in his house, being very free and familiar with him; and who were, as it were, at home in his tabernacle; or rather his domestic servants, that were under his roof, and dwelt in his house, see Job 19:15; if these

said not, oh that we had of his flesh! we cannot be satisfied; of the flesh of Job's enemy; and the sense is that his servants used to say, are cannot bear to see our master so ill used and insulted by his enemy; we wish he would only allow us to avenge him on him, we would eat him up alive; we would devour him, and destroy him at once; nor can we be satisfied unless we have leave to do it: and so this is a further proof of Job's patience with his enemies, that though he had fetters on in his family, his servants solicited him to revenge, yet he abstained from it; which may be exemplified in the cases of David and of Christ, 1 Samuel 26:8, though some think these words express Job's patience towards his servants, who were so angry with him for the strict discipline he observed in his house, that they wished they had his flesh to eat, and could not be satisfied without it; and yet, so far was he from taking pleasure in the calamities of his enemies, and wishing ill to them, that he did not resent the ill natured speeches of his servants, and avenge himself on them for their wicked insults upon him: but it can hardly be thought that Job would keep such wicked servants in his house; but perhaps Job here enters upon a new crime, which he clears himself of, and is opened more fully in Job 31:32, namely, inhospitality to strangers; since the particle "if" commonly begins a new article in this chapter, and being taken in this sense, various interpretations are given; some, as if Job's servants were displeased with him for his hospitality, that his house was always so full of guests, that they were continually employed in dressing food for them, that they had not time, or that there was not enough left for them to eat of his flesh, his food, and be satisfied with it; or else, as pleased with the plentiful table he kept, and therefore desired to continue always in his service, and eat of his food; nor could they be satisfied with the food of others, or live elsewhere; though perhaps it is best of all to render the words, as by some, who will give, or show the man "that is not satisfied of his flesh?" (h) point out the man in all the neighbourhood that has not been liberally entertained at Job's table to his full satisfaction and content; and his liberality did not extend only to his neighbours, but to strangers also; as follows.

(h) So Schultens, "quis"; and Ikenius, apud ib.

If the men of my {u} tabernacle said not, Oh that we had of his flesh! we cannot be satisfied.

(u) My servants moved me to be avenged of my enemy, yet I never wished him harm.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
31. The verse appears to mean,

If the men of my tent have not said,

Would that we could find any not filled with his flesh!

The men of his tent are of course his servants. The verse describes Job’s princely hospitality; his servants are represented as expressing the wish that they could find any one who has not yet (like others) been filled from Job’s rich table—hence the particular word flesh is used instead of the more general “meat,” flesh being served chiefly on occasions of entertainment in the East. The servants were well aware of their master’s generosity, and did their best to give it effect. The language might appear exaggerated were it not a question of Oriental manners. In the story of the Banker of Bagdad in the Arabian Nights the servants are introduced speaking in the same way. The Caliph Elmo‘taddid and his companion Ibn Hamdoon went out one day, disguised as merchants, to divert themselves among the people; and being overpowered by the heat of the sun they sat down to rest at the door of a large mansion. Out of this house there came a servant, accompanied by another, like a piece of the moon; and the one said to the other, Our master will be sad to-day, for it is already this time of day and no one has come to him, and he loves to have guests. The Caliph was surprised at his words and said, This is proof of the generosity of the owner of this mansion, we must go in, &c.Verse 31. - If the men of my tent said not, Oh that we had of his flesh! we cannot be satisfied. A very obscure passage, but probably to be connected with the following verse, in which Job boasts of his hospitality. Translate, If the men of my tent did not say, Who can find a man that has not been satisfied with his meat? The apodosis is wanting, as in ver. 28. 24 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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