Job 33:9
I am clean without transgression, I am innocent; neither is there iniquity in me.
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(9) I am clean without transgression.—Job has nowhere used this language; but many of his statements were capable of being so perverted and misrepresented (Job 9:20-21; Job 16:17; Job 23:10-12; Job 27:5-6). This shows that Elihu even was incapable of entering fully into Job’s position. He did not understand that a man could alone be righteous in proportion as he trusted God, but that, trusting God, he was righteous with His righteousness. This was the truth that Job dimly perceived and was faintly, though surely, striving after; and to his friends it was unintelligible, and not wholly apprehended by Elihu.

33:8-13 Elihu charges Job with reflecting upon the justice and goodness of God. When we hear any thing said to God's dishonour, we ought to bear our testimony against it. Job had represented God as severe in marking what he did amiss. Elihu urges that he had spoken wrong, and that he ought to humble himself before God, and by repentance to unsay it. God is not accountable to us. It is unreasonable for weak, sinful creatures, to strive with a God of infinite wisdom, power, and goodness. He acts with perfect justice, wisdom, and goodness, where we cannot perceive it.I am clean - I am pure and holy.

Without transgression - Job had not used these very expressions, nor had he intended to maintain that he was absolutely free from sin; see Job 9:20. He had maintained that he was not chargeable with the transgressions of which his three friends maintained that he was guilty, and in doing that he had used strong language, and language which even seemed to imply that he was without transgression; see Job 9:30; Job 10:7; Job 13:23; Job 16:17.

I am innocent - The word used here (חף chaph) is from the verb חפף chophaph - to cover, to protect; and also, as a secondary meaning, from the Arabic, to rub, to wipe off; to wash away; to lave. Hence, it denotes that which is rubbed clean, washed, pure - and then innocent. The word occurs only in this place. It is not the exact language which Job had used, and there seems to be some injustice done him in saying that he had employed such language. Elihu means, doubtless, that he had used language which implied this, or which was equivalent to it.

9. clean—spotless. Not simply and absolutely none, for he oft confesseth himself to be a sinner, as Job 9:1,2, &c.; Job 14:4; but no such transgression or iniquity as might give God just occasion to punish him so severely, as is implied in the next verse, where he blameth God for finding occasions against him, implying that he had given him none by his sins. And thus far Elihu’s charge was just and true, and herein it differs from the charge of Job’s three friends, who oft accuse him, and that in words much like these, for asserting his own righteousness and innocency; although they did it because they thought him a secret sinner and a hypocrite, whereas Elihu doth it upon other grounds, even because Job’s justification of himself was accompanied with reflections upon God, as hath been said. I am clean without transgression,.... This with what follows is supposed to be gathered from Job 10:6; for this is nowhere said by Job in express words; though I rather think, since Elihu so peremptorily affirms that they were spoken in his hearing, that these words and the following did drop from Job's lips, in the controversy with his friends, though not recorded; for we are not to suppose that everything that was said on both sides is preserved, only so much as the Holy Ghost thought fit should be: no man is naturally clean, or free from sin; man came clean out of the hands of God, by sin is become unclean. This impurity is propagated by natural generation, and is in all without exception. Job expresses himself clearly on this point, and agreeably to it, Job 14:4; nor is any man clean by and of himself, or through anything he is capable of doing, in a moral, ceremonial, or evangelic sense, to make himself clean; as by moral actions, by ceremonial ablutions and sacrifices, or by submission to evangelic ordinances, or even by his own tears, repentance, and humiliation. Job seemed clearly and fully sensible of this, Job 9:30; see Proverbs 20:9; yet there are some persons that are clean through the blood of Christ, in which they are washed, and which cleanses from all sin; and through the righteousness of Christ imputed to them, in which they appear without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; and through the sentence of justification pronounced on them, by which word spoken they are all clean; and through the grace of God bestowed on them, the clean water that is sprinkled upon them, by which they are cleansed from all filthiness, and hence said to have clean hearts and clean hands; and if Job meant it in this sense, as he had knowledge of his living Redeemer, he no doubt was such an one, Job 19:25, but not "without transgression": without transgression imputed he was, and such are all they whose persons are justified, and their sins pardoned; to those God does not impute sin, Psalm 32:1; but they are not without the being nor commission of sin; for no man, even the best of men, are clear of it in this sense. Job might be free from the grosser sins of life, but not from indwelling sin, and the actings of it; we find him confessing sin, and disclaiming perfection, Job 7:20;

I am innocent; so he was, as to the charges brought against him by his friends, or the things it was insinuated he was guilty of, as hypocrisy, &c. or as to doing any injury to the persons and properties of men, or with respect to gross enormities, from which he had sufficiently cleared himself in Job 31:1; but not so innocent as to be free from all sin, as Adam was in his state of innocence, which is contrary to his own declarations in the passages before referred to; some, as Aben Ezra observes, interpret the word "covered" (f), and as having the same sense with Psalm 32:1; and in which sense it was true of Job, that his iniquities were covered; and others of his being covered with righteousness, with civil righteousness, as in Job 29:14; which was true of the exercise of it; and in an evangelic sense he was covered with the justifying righteousness of Christ; the Targum renders the word "washed", as he was in a spiritual sense. Jarchi interprets it "wiped" or "rubbed", and others combed and brushed, and so "neat" and "clean", which is the sense of several versions (g):

neither is there iniquity in me; in a Gospel sense there is none in believers in Christ; their iniquities being removed from them to him, and are done away and made an end of by him; nor are they to be seen with the eye of vindictive justice; God has cast them behind his back, and into the depths of the sea, never to be seen more; but then there is iniquity in them, as considered in themselves; for men to say they have none shows pride and ignorance, and is inconsistent with the truth of grace. If Job is to understood in these expressions in an evangelical sense, or with respect to the grossest sins of life, or a vicious course of life (and indeed in no other sense can he well be understood, consistent with himself), he is not to be blamed for what he said, and I apprehend that Elihu does not blame him for saying these things in his own defence; but for insisting so much and so long upon his innocence and purity, and unspotted life; and especially for joining with it undue and unbecoming reflections on the Lord, for afflicting a person so holy and righteous, as follows.

(f) "tectus", Montanus, Bolducius. (g) "Mundus", Beza; "nitidus", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "tersus", Codurcus, Cocceius.

I am {d} clean without transgression, I am innocent; neither is there iniquity in me.

(d) He repeats Job's words, by which he protested his innocency in various places, but especially in the 13th, 16th and 30th chapters.

9. For the expressions cited in this verse comp. ch. Job 9:21, Job 10:7, Job 16:17, Job 23:10, Job 27:5.Verse 9. - I am clean without transgression, I am innocent. Job had not said that he was "clean," or "without transgression," or "innocent." With respect to "cleanness," he had observed, "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one," implying that all men were unclean (see Job 14:4). Concerning ,'transgressions," he had declared, "I have sinned... Why dost thou not pardon my transgression, and take away mine iniquity?" (Job 7:20, 21); and again, "Thou makest me to possess the iniquities of my youth" (Job 13:26). Further, he had asked to be told the number of his iniquities and sins (Job 13:23), and declared that God kept his transgressions and iniquities sewn up and sealed in a bag (Job 14:17). With regard to "innocence," the only observation that he had made was, "I know that thou wilt not hold me innocent" (Job 9:28). What he had really asserted was his uprightness, his integrity, his "righteousness" (Job 12:4: 16:17; 23. 7; 27:5, 6; 31:5-40). And these are exactly what God bore witness to (Job 1:8; Job 2:3). It is plain, then, that Elihu overstated his ease, and, whatever his intentions were, was practically almost as unfair to Job as the "comforters." Neither is there iniquity in me. Nor had Job said this. He had frequently acknowledged the contrary (see Job 7:21; Job 13:26; Job 14:17). 1 But nevertheless, O Job, hear my speeches,

And hearken to all my words.

2 Behold now, I have opened my mouth,

My tongue speaketh in my palate.

3 Sincere as my heart are my utterances,

And knowledge that is pure my lips declare.

The issue of the impartial discussion which Elihu designs to effect, is subject to this one condition, that Job listens to it, and observes not merely this or that, but the whole of its connected contents; and in this sense ואוּלם, which is used just as in Job 1:11; Job 11:5; Job 12:7; Job 13:4; Job 14:18; Job 17:10, in the signification verumtamen, stands at the head of this new turn in his speech. Elihu addresses Job, as none of the previous speakers have done, by name. With הנּה־נא (as Job 13:18), he directs Job's observation to that which he is about to say: he has already opened his mouth, his tongue is already in motion, - circumstantial statement, which solemnly inaugurate what follows with a consciousness of its importance. Job has felt the absence of אמרי־ישׁר, Job 6:25, in the speeches of the three; but Elihu can at the outset ensure his word being "the sincerity of his heart," i.e., altogether heartily well meant: and - thus it would be to be translated according to the accentuation - the knowledge of my lips, they (my lips) utter purely. But "the knowledge of the lips" is a notion that seems strange with this translation, and בּרוּר is hardly intended thus adverbially. דּעת, contrary to the accentuation, is either taken as the accusative of the obj., and בּרוּר as the acc. of the predicate (masc. as Proverbs 2:10; Proverbs 14:6): knowledge my lips utter pure; or interpreted, if one is not willing to depart from the accentuation, with Seb. Schmid: scientiam labiorum meorum quod attinet (the knowledge proceeding from my lips), puram loquentur sc. labia mea. The notions of purity and choice coincide in ברור (comp. Arab. ibtarra, to separate one's self; asfa, to prove one's self pure, and to select). The perff., Job 33:2, describe what is begun, and so, as relatively past, extending into the present.

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