Job 34:14
If he set his heart upon man, if he gather unto himself his spirit and his breath;
Jump to: BarnesBensonBICambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsJFBKDKellyKJTLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWParkerPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBWESTSK
(14) If he set his heart upon man.—Or, upon himself. It is ambiguous: and so, likewise, the next clause is. We must either regard it as the consequence of the former one—“If He set His heart upon Himself, had regard to His own interest, then He would gather unto Himself His own spirit and His own breath”—or we must do as some do: supply the “if” at the beginning of it, and read it as in the Authorised Version. In this sense, the setting His heart upon man would mean in a bad sense—to do him injury. In doing him injury He would, in fact, injure His own. The effect of His setting His heart on man would be that all flesh would perish together, and man would turn again to his dust; but then God would have injured His own, and not another’s, in so doing. It is hardly possible that the writer of this last clause should have been ignorant of Genesis 3:19. The speech of Elihu is marked with entire self-confidence.

Job 34:14-15. If he set his heart upon man — Hebrew, אליו, eelaiv, upon him, meaning man, doubtless. If his eye and heart be upon man, and he diligently observe him and all his ways, and whatsoever is amiss in him, and therefore resolve to punish him: or, if he set his heart against him, (as the word may properly be, and often is rendered,) and therefore resolve to cut him off: if he gather — Or, without if, which is not in the Hebrew, he will gather unto himself his spirit and his breath — Namely, by death, by which God is said to take away men’s breath, Psalm 104:29, and to gather their souls, Psalm 26:9. All flesh — All mankind, who are called flesh, Genesis 6:3; Genesis 6:17; Isaiah 40:6; shall perish together — Or, alike, without any exception, be they high or low, wise or foolish, good or bad; if God design to destroy them, they cannot withstand his power, but must needs perish by his stroke. The design of this and the foregoing verse is the same with that of Job 34:13, namely, to declare God’s absolute and uncontrollable sovereignty over all men, to dispose of them either for life or death as it pleases him; and consequently to show that Job had cause to be thankful unto God, who had continued his life so long to him, and had no cause to complain, or tax God with any injustice for afflicting him.

34:10-15 Elihu had showed Job, that God meant him no hurt by afflicting him, but intended his spiritual benefit. Here he shows, that God did him no wrong by afflicting him. If the former did not satisfy him, this ought to silence him. God cannot do wickedness, nor the Almighty commit wrong. If services now go unrewarded, and sins now go unpunished, yet there is a day coming, when God will fully render to every man according to his works. Further, though the believer's final condemnation is done away through the Saviour's ransom, yet he has merited worse than any outward afflictions; so that no wrong is done to him, however he may be tried.If he set his heart upon man - Margin, as in Hebrew "upon him" - meaning "man." That is, if he fixes his attention particularly on him, or should form a purpose in regard him. The argument seems to be tbis. "If God wished such a thing, and should set his heart upon it, he could easily cut off the whole race. He has power to do it, and no one can deny him the right. Man has no claim to life, but he who gave it has a right to withdraw it, and the race is absolutely dependent on this infinite Sovereign. Being such a Sovereign, therefore, and having such a right, man cannot complain of his Maker as unjust, if he is called to pass through trials." Rosenmuller, however, supposes this is to be taken in the sense of severe scrutiny, and that it means, "If God should examine with strictness the life of man, and mark all his faults, no flesh would be allowed to live. All would be found to be guilty, and would be cut off." Grotius supposes it to mean, "If God should regard only himself; if he wished only to be good to himself - that is, to consult his own welfare, he would take away life from all, and live and reign alone." This is also the interpretation of Umbreit, Schnurrer, and Eichhorn. Noyes regards it as an argument drawn from the benevolence of God, meaning if God were severe, unjust, and revengeful, the earth would be a scene of universal desolation. It seems to me, however, that it is rather an argument from the absolute sovereignty or power of the Almighty, implying that man had no right to complain of the divine dealings in the loss of health, property, or friends; for if he chose he might sweep away the whole race, and leave the earth desolate.

If he gather unto himself his spirit and his breath - The spirit of man is represented as having been originally given by God, and as returning to him when man dies; Ecclesiastes 12:7, "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it."

14, 15. "If He were to set His heart on man," either to injure him, or to take strict account of his sins. The connection supports rather [Umbreit], "If He had regard to himself (only), and were to gather unto Himself (Ps 104:29) man's spirit, &c. (which he sends forth, Ps 104:30; Ec 12:7), all flesh must perish together," &c. (Ge 3:19). God's loving preservation of His creatures proves He cannot be selfish, and therefore cannot be unjust. Upon man, Heb. upon him, i.e. man, as may seem probable from Job 34:11,15, where man is expressed; and from the next clause of this verse, where he speaks of that

spirit and

breath which is in man. If his eye and heart be upon man, if he diligently and exactly observe him, and all his ways, and whatsoever is amiss in him, and, which follows upon it of course, resolve to punish him. Or, if he set his heart against (as this particle el is used, Amos 7:15, and elsewhere, as hath been noted before) him, to wit, to cut him off. If he gather unto himself; if it please him to gather to himself, to wit, by death, , whereby God is said to take away men’s breath, Psalm 104:29, and to gather men’s souls, Psalm 26:9, and the spirit is said to return unto God, Ecclesiastes 12:7.

His spirit and his breath, i.e. that spirit and breath, or that living soul, that God breathed into man, Genesis 2:7, and gives to every man that cometh into the world.

If he set his heart upon man,.... Not his love and affections; though there are some he does in this sense set his heart on, and whose souls at death he gathers to himself, but with this sense the next verse will not agree; but to destroy him, as Jarchi adds by way of explanation; if he gives his mind to it, is set upon it and resolved to do it, none can hinder him; or sets himself against him in an hostile way, the issue must be entire ruin and destruction to the race of men; but it is plain this is not the case, or otherwise all must have perished long ago: or if he severely marks the ways and works of men, and deals with them according to the strictness of his justice, which yet he might do without any charge of injustice, none could stand before him; but this he does not, so far is he from any injustice, or any appearance of it;

if he gather unto himself his spirit and his breath; not his own spirit and breath, drawing in and retaining that within himself, and withholding the influence of it from his creatures, which the Septuagint version seems to favour; but the spirit and breath of man, which are of God, and which, as he gives, he can gather when he pleases. The spirit or rational soul of man is put in him by the Lord; this at death is separated from the body, yet dies not with it, but is gathered to the Lord: and the breath which he breathes into man, and is in his nostrils, and which, as he gives, he can take away, and then man dies. But in doing this he does no injustice; indeed, should he in anger and resentment rise up and deal thus with men in general, the consequence must be as follows.

If {k} he set his heart upon man, if he gather unto himself his spirit {l} and his breath;

(k) To destroy him.

(l) The breath of life which he gave man.

14. if he set his heart upon man] lit. as marg. upon him. The interpretation of the A. V. is possible, the meaning being, if God should set His mind strictly on man, to mark iniquity and the like (ch. Job 7:17). More probably the meaning is: set His mind upon Himself;—if He were the object of His own exclusive regard and consideration. If God thought alone of Himself and ceased to think of all creatures with a benevolent consideration, giving them life and upholding by His spirit, all flesh would perish.

Verse 14. - If he set his heart upon man, if he gather unto himself his spirit and his breath. Two renderings are proposed, both supported By about equal authority:

(1) "If he (i.e. God) set his heart upon himself, if he should gather to himself his own spirit, and breath," then all flesh would perish, etc.

(2) "If he [i.e. God] set his heart upon [or, 'against'] man, if he were to gather to himself man's spirit and man's breath," then, etc. The difference is not great. God could, either by withdrawing from man the breath and spirit which he has given him, or simply by withholding from man the quickening and sustaining influences which he is perpetually putting forth, reduce all humankind to nothingness. Being so completely master of man, he would surely not condescend to treat him with injustice. Injustice implies something of opposition, struggle, rivalry. Job 34:1412 Yea verily God acteth not wickedly,

And the Almighty perverteth not the right.

13 Who hath given the earth in charge to Him?

And who hath disposed the whole globe?

14 If He only set His heart upon Himself,

If He took back His breath and His inspiration to Himself:

15 All flesh would expire together,

And man would return to dust.

With אף אמנם (Yea verily, as Job 19:4, "and really") the counter-assertion of Job 34:11 is repeated, but negatively expressed (comp. Job 8:3). הרשׁיע signifies sometimes to act as רשׁע, and at others to be set forth and condemned as a רשׁע; here, as the connection requires, it is the former. Job 34:13 begins the proof. Ewald's interpretation: who searcheth, and Hahn's: who careth for the earth beside Him, are hazardous and unnecessary. פּקד with על of the person and the acc. of the thing signifies: to enjoin anything as a duty on any one, to entrust anything to any one, Job 36:23; Numbers 4:27; 2 Chronicles 36:23; therefore: who has made the earth, i.e., the care of it, a duty to Him? ארצה (Milel) is not to be refined into the meaning "to the earth" (as here by Schultens and a few others, Isaiah 9:1 by Luzzatto: he hath smitten down, better: dishonoured, to the earth with a light stroke), but is poetically equivalent to ארץ, as לילה (comp. modern Greek ἡ νύχθα) is in prose equivalent to ליל. Job 34:13 is by no means, with Ew. and Hahn, to be translated: who observes (considers) the whole globe, שׂים as Job 34:23; Job 4:20; Job 24:12 - the expression would be too contracted to affirm that no one but God bestowed providential attention upon the earth; and if we have understood Job 34:13 correctly, the thought is also inappropriate. A more appropriate thought is gained, if עליו is supplied from Job 34:13: who has enjoined upon Him the whole circle of the earth (Saad., Gecat., Hirz., Schlottm.); but this continued force of the עליו into the second independent question is improbable in connection with the repetition of מי. Therefore: who has appointed, i.e., established (שׂם as Job 38:5; Isaiah 44:7), - a still somewhat more suitable thought, going logically further, since the one giving the charge ought to be the lord of him who receives the commission, and therefore the Creator of the world. This is just God alone, by whose רוּח and נשׁמה the animal world as well as the world of men (vid., Job 32:8; Job 33:4) has its life, Job 34:14 : if He should direct His heart, i.e., His attention (שׂים לב אל, as Job 2:3), to Himself (emphatic: Himself alone), draw in (אסף as Psalm 104:29; comp. for the matter Ecclesiastes 12:7, Psychol. S. 406) to Himself His inspiration and breath (which emanated from Him or was effected by Him), all flesh would sink together, i.e., die off at once (this, as it appears, has reference to the taking back of the animal life, רוח), and man would return (this has reference to the taking back of the human spirit, נשׁמה) to dust (על instead of אל, perhaps with reference to the usual use of the על־עפר, Job 17:16; Job 20:11; Job 21:26).

Only a few modern expositors refer אליו, as Targ. Jer. and Syr., to man instead of reflexively to God; the majority rightly decide in favour of the idea which even Grotius perceived: si sibi ipsi tantum bonus esse (sui unius curam habere) vellet. אם followed by the fut. signifies either si velit (lxx ει ̓ βούλοιτο), as here, or as more frequently, si vellet, Psalm 50:12; Psalm 139:8, Obadiah 1:4, Isaiah 10:22; Amos 9:2-4. It is worthy of remark that, according to Norzi's statement, the Babylonian texts presented ישׁיב, Job 34:14, as Chethb, ישׂים as Ker (like our Palestine text, Daniel 11:18), which a MS of De Rossi, with a Persian translation, confirms; the reading gives a fine idea: that God's heart is turned towards the world, and is unclosed; its ethical condition of life would then be like its physical ground of life, that God's spirit dwells in it; the drawing back of the heart, and the taking back to Himself of the spirit, would be equivalent to the exclusion of the world from God's love and life. However, ישׂים implies the same; for a reference of God's thinking and willing to Himself, with the exclusion of the world, would be just a removal of His love. Elihu's proof is this: God does not act wrongly, for the government of the world is not a duty imposed upon Him from without, but a relation entered into freely by Him: the world is not the property of another, but of His free creative appointment; and how unselfishly, how devoid of self-seeking He governs it, is clear from the fact, that by the impartation of His living creative breath He sustains every living thing, and does not, as He easily might, allow them to fall away into nothingness. There is therefore a divine love which has called the world into being and keeps it in being; and this love, as the perfect opposite of sovereign caprice, is a pledge for the absolute righteousness of the divine rule.

Job 34:14 Interlinear
Job 34:14 Parallel Texts

Job 34:14 NIV
Job 34:14 NLT
Job 34:14 ESV
Job 34:14 NASB
Job 34:14 KJV

Job 34:14 Bible Apps
Job 34:14 Parallel
Job 34:14 Biblia Paralela
Job 34:14 Chinese Bible
Job 34:14 French Bible
Job 34:14 German Bible

Bible Hub

Job 34:13
Top of Page
Top of Page