Job 32:8
But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty gives them understanding.
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(8) But there is a spirit in man.—Rather, But it is the spirit in man.

And the inspiration of the Almighty.—Rather, And the breath of the Almighty that giveth them understanding. It is the expression used in the Mosaic narrative of the origin of man, and may perhaps show acquaintance on the part of the writer with that narrative (Genesis 2:7). Elihu means to say that it is not years so much as the spirit and illumination of the Almighty that maketh a man pre-eminent in wisdom.

32:6-14 Elihu professes to speak by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and corrects both parties. He allowed that those who had the longest experience should speak first. But God gives wisdom as he pleases; this encouraged him to state his opinion. By attention to the word of God, and dependence upon the Holy Spirit, young men may become wiser than the aged; but this wisdom will render them swift to hear, slow to speak, and disposed to give others a patient hearing.But there is a spirit in man - This evidently refers to a spirit imparted from above; a spirit from the Almighty. The parallelism seems to require this, for it responds to the phrase "the inspiration of the Almighty" in the other hemistich. The Hebrew expression here also seems to require this interpretation. It is, הוא רוח rûach hû', the Spirit itself; meaning the very Spirit that gives wisdom, or the Spirit of inspiration. He had said, in the previous verse, that it was reasonable to expect to find wisdom among the aged and the experienced. But in this he had been disappointed. He now finds that wisdom is not the attribute of rank or station, but that it is the gift of God, and therefore it may be found in a youth. All true wisdom, is the sentiment, is from above; and where the inspiration of the Almighty is, no matter whether with the aged or the young, there is understanding. Elihu undoubtedly means to say, that though he was much younger than they were, and though, according to the common estimate in which the aged and the young were held, he might be supposed to have much less acquaintance with the subjects under consideration, yet, as all true wisdom came from above, he might be qualified to speak. The word "spirit" here, therefore, refers to the spirit which God gives; and the passage is a proof that it was an early opinion that certain men were under the teachings of divine inspiration. The Chaldee renders it נבואתא רוח, a spirit of prophecy.

And the inspiration of the Almighty - The breathing" of the Almighty - שׁדי נשׁמה neshâmâh Shadday. The idea was, that God breathed this into man, and that this wisdom was the breath of God; compare Genesis 2:7; John 20:22. Septuagint, πνοή pnoē, breath, breathing.

8. Elihu claims inspiration, as a divinely commissioned messenger to Job (Job 33:6, 23); and that claim is not contradicted in Job 42:4, 5. Translate: "But the spirit (which God puts) in man, and the inspiration … is that which giveth," &c.; it is not mere "years" which give understanding (Pr 2:6; Joh 20:22). But; or, surely; it must be confessed.

A spirit, to wit, which gives him understanding, as is easily and fitly gathered out of the last words of the verse. And this is to be understood either,

1. Of the human spirit, or reasonable soul, which is in every man. So the sense of the place is, Every man, as a man, whether old or young, hath a reasonable soul, by which he is able in some measure to discern between good and evil, and to judge of men’s opinions and discourses; and therefore I also may venture to deliver my opinion. Or,

2. Of the Spirit of God; the latter clause being explicatory of the former, according to the manner. So the sense is, I expected a true and full discovery of the truth in this controversy from persons of your years, wisdom, and experience. But upon second thoughts I consider that the knowledge of these deep and Divine mysteries is not to be had or expected from any man as such, though never so aged or wise; but only from God’s Spirit, which alone knoweth the deep things of God. And this

Spirit he saith is

in man; not in every man, for the words are not universal, but indefinite, and man in this branch is no larger than them who receive Divine inspiration in the next branch. And so the sense is, God is pleased to give his Spirit unto mankind, unto men of all ages and qualities, as tie pleaseth; and having given it in some measure to me, I may take the boldness to utter my thoughts.

The inspiration of the Almighty, i.e. God’s Spirit, or the gracious gifts thereof breathed or infused into man’s soul by God.

Understanding, to wit, in divine and spiritual matters, which are the matter of this debate and book. But there is a spirit in man,.... This seems to be a correction of his former sentiment; the consideration of which gave him encouragement, though young, to declare his opinion, since there is a spirit in men, both young and old; and wherever that be, there is an ability to speak and a capacity of teaching wisdom; which is not tied to age; but may he found in young men as well as in old men: some by this understand the rational soul, or spirit, which is immaterial, immortal, is of God, and is in man; and the rather it is thought this is meant, because it is in every man, whereby he has knowledge of many things, natural and divine, and particularly is capable of trying and judging things, of discerning the difference between one thing and another, and of reasoning and discoursing upon them; and this being observed by Elihu, and he being conscious to himself of having such a spirit in him, was emboldened to engage in the debate, though a young man; but if such a spirit is meant, the words may be rendered to such a sense, verily, truly, indeed "there is such a rational spirit in man", which makes him capable of knowing many things, "but the inspiration of the Almighty", &c. (p); it is not owing to the rational powers and faculties of the soul of man, and the use of them, that a man becomes capable of teaching others wisdom; but to his soul or spirit being inspired by the Almighty; and such an one, be he young or old, that God breathes into, and he is under his inspiration, he is the man fit to engage in such work: though I rather think, that in this first clause the spirit of God is meant, and so Jarchi; who is an uncreated, infinite, and eternal Spirit; is of God, and is put into men; for he is not in men naturally, nor in everyone; and where he is, he is given, and there he abides; and it is from him men have their wisdom and knowledge; it is he that makes men know themselves, that searches the deep things of God, and reveals them to men, and that is the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ, and leads into all truth, as it is in him; though rather the spirit in his gifts, than in his spiritual saving grace, is here meant; and so does not point to every good man in common, but to such who are favoured with the gifts of the spirit superior to others; and so the Targum interprets it of the spirit of prophecy; and on whomsoever this rests, whether on young or old, he is fit to teach men wisdom:

and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding; not the soul of man, or breath of God inspired by him, which is the candle of the Lord, searching the inward parts of men; for that leaves him without understanding of things of the greatest importance: rather, as the Targum, the Word of God, the essential Word, the Son of God, who gives an understanding of the best things, 1 John 5:20; but, better, the Spirit of God, by whom the Scriptures were inspired, and who is breathed into men, John 20:22; and is a spirit of understanding to them; for though a man has an understanding of natural things, yet not of things spiritual; to have an understanding of them is the special gift of God, and is in particular the work of the Spirit of God: Elihu now having some reason to believe that he had the Spirit of God, and was under his inspiration, and was favoured with knowledge and understanding by him, is encouraged, though young, to interpose in this dispute between Job and his friends, and declare his opinion on the matter in debate; and which leads him to make an observation somewhat different from his former sentiment, as follows.

(p) So Vatablus, Beza.

But there is a spirit in man: {f} and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.

(f) It is a special gift of God that man has understanding and comes neither from nature nor by age.

8. the inspiration of the Almighty] lit. the breath of the Almighty, as ch. Job 33:4. Both “spirit” and “breath” refer to God’s spirit of life breathed into man when he is brought into existence (Genesis 2:7), there is no allusion to any extraordinary illumination given to Elihu at the moment when he speaks. This spirit of God is a spirit of intelligence as well as of life (ch. Job 33:4), and under the impulse of the crowding thoughts which rush into his mind at this instant Elihu feels that this spirit has been given to himself in great fulness.Verse 8. - But there is a spirit in man. But, after all, it is not mere age and experience that make men wise and able to teach others. "There is a spirit in man" (see Genesis 2:7); and it is according as this spirit is or is not enlightened from on high that men speak words of wisdom or the contrary. The inspiration of the Almighty - this it is, which - giveth them understanding. And such inspiration it is in the power of God to bestow, as he pleases, on the old or on the young, on the great of the earth, or on those of small reputation. Hence Elihu's conclusion - 1-3 So these three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. And the wrath of Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, was kindled: against Job was his wrath kindled, because he justified himself at the expense of God. And against his three friends was his wrath kindled, because they found no answer, and condemned Job.

The name of the speaker is אליהוּא (with Mahpach), son of בּרכאל (with Munach) the buwziy (with Zarka). The name Elihu signifies "my God is He," and occurs also as an Israelitish name, although it is not specifically Israelitish, like Elijah (my God is Jehovah). Brach'el (for which the mode of writing בּרכאל with Dag. implic. is also found) signifies "may God bless!" (Olsh. 277, S. 618); for proper names, as the Arabian grammarians observe, can be formed both into the form of assertory clauses (ichbâr), and also into the form of modal (inshâ); the name ברכאל is in this respect distinguished from the specifically Israelitish name בּרכיה (Jehovah blesseth). The accompanying national name defines the scene; for on the one side בּוּז and עוּץ, according to Genesis 22:21, are the sons of Nahor, Abraham's brother, who removed with him (though not at the same time) from Ur Casdim to Haran, therefore by family Aramaeans; on the other side, בּוּז, Jeremiah 25:23, appears as an Arab race, belonging to the קצוּצי פאה (comp. Jeremiah 9:25; Jeremiah 49:32), i.e., to the Arabs proper, who cut the hair of their heads short all round (περιτρόχαλα, Herodotus iii. 8), because wearing it long was accounted as disgraceful (vid., Tebrzi in the Hamsa, p. 459, l. 10ff.). Within the Buzite race, Elihu sprang from the family of רם. Since רם is the name of the family, not the race, it cannot be equivalent to ארם (like רמּים, 2 Chronicles 22:5, equals ארמים), and it is therefore useless to derive the Aramaic colouring of Elihu's speeches from design on the part of the poet. But by making him a Buzite, he certainly appears to make him an Aramaean Arab, as Aristeas in Euseb. praep. ix. 25 calls him Ἐλιοῦν τὸν Βαραξηιὴλ τὸν Ζωβίτην (from ארם צובה). It is remarkable that Elihu's origin is given so exactly, while the three are described only according to their country, without any statement of father or family. It would indeed be possible, as Lightfoot and Rosenm. suppose, for the poet to conceal his own name in that of Elihu, or to make allusion to it; but an instance of this later custom of Oriental poets is found nowhere else in Old Testament literature.

The three friends are silenced, because all their attempts to move Job to a penitent confession that his affliction is the punishment of his sins, have rebounded against this fact, that he was righteous in his own eyes, i.e., that he imagined himself righteous; and because they now (שׁבת of persons, in distinction from חדל, has the secondary notion of involuntariness) know of nothing more to say. Then Elihu's indignation breaks forth in two directions. First, concerning Job, that he justified himself מאלהים, i.e., not a Deo (so that He would be obliged to account him righteous, as Job 4:17), but prae Deo. Elihu rightly does not find it censurable in Job, that as a more commonly self-righteous man he in general does not consider himself a sinner, which the three insinuate of him (Job 15:14; Job 25:4), but that, declaring himself to be righteous, he brings upon God the appearance of injustice, or, as Jehovah also says further on, Job 40:8, that he condemns God in order that he may be able to maintain his own righteousness. Secondly, concerning the three, that they have found no answer by which they might have been able to disarm Job in his maintenance of his own righteousness at the expense of the divine justice, and that in consequence of this they have condemned Job. Hahn translates: so that they should have represented Job as guilty; but that they have not succeeded in stamping the servant of God as a רשׁע, would wrongly excite Elihu's displeasure. And Ewald translates: and that they had nevertheless condemned him (345, a); but even this was not the real main defect of their opposition. The fut. consec. describes the condemnation as the result of their inability to hit upon the right answer; it was a miserable expedient to which they had recourse. According to the Jewish view, ויּרשׁיעוּ את־איּוב is one of the eighteen תקוני סופרים (correctiones scribarum), since it should be וירשׁיעו את־האלהים. But it is not the friends who have been guilty of this sin of הרשׁיע against God, but Job, Job 40:8, to whom Elihu opposes the sentence אל לא־ירשׁיע, Job 34:12. Our judgment of another such tiqqûn, Job 7:20, was more favourable. That Elihu, notwithstanding the inward conviction to the contrary by which he is followed during the course of the controversial dialogue, now speaks for the first time, is explained by what follows.

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