Job 34:14
If he set his heart on man, if he gather to himself his spirit and his breath;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(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.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
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. 5 For Job hath said: "I am guiltless,

"And God hath put aside my right.

6 "Shall I lie in spite of my right,

"Incurable is mine arrow without transgression."

7 Where is there a man like Job,

Who drinketh scorning like water,

8 And keepeth company with the workers of iniquity,

And walketh with wicked men,

9 So that he saith: "A man hath no profit

"From entering into fellowship with God"?!

That in relation to God, thinking of Him as a punishing judge, he is righteous or in the right, i.e., guiltless (צדקתּי with Pathach in pause, according to Ew. 93, c, from צדק equals צדק, but perhaps, comp. Proverbs 24:30; Psalm 102:26, because the Athnach is taken only as of the value of Zakeph), Job has said verbatim in Job 13:18, and according to meaning, Job 23:10; Job 27:7, and throughout; that He puts aside his right (the right of the guiltless, and therefore not of one coming under punishment): Job 27:2. That in spite of his right (על, to be interpreted, according to Schultens' example, just like Job 10:7; Job 16:17), i.e., although right is on his side, yet he must be accounted a liar, since his own testimony is belied by the wrathful form of his affliction, that therefore the appearance of wrong remains inalienably attached to him, we find in idea in Job 9:20 and freq. Elihu makes Job call his affliction חצּי, i.e., an arrow sticking in him, viz., the arrow of the wrath of God (on the objective suff. comp. on Job 23:2), after Job 6:4; Job 16:9; Job 19:11; and that this his arrow, i.e., the pain which it causes him, is incurably bad, desperately malignant without (בּלי as Job 8:11) פּשׁע, i.e., sins existing as the ground of it, from which he would be obliged to suppose they had thrust him out of the condition of favour, is Job's constant complaint (vid., e.g., Job 13:23.). Another utterance of Job closely connected with it has so roused Elihu's indignation, that he prefaces it with the exclamation of astonishment: Who is a man like Job, i.e., where in all the world (מי as 2 Samuel 7:23) has this Job his equal, who ... . The attributive clause refers to Job; "to drink scorn (here: blasphemy) like water," is, according to Job 15:16, equivalent to to give one's self up to mockery with delight, and to find satisfaction in it. ארח לחברה, to go over to any one's side, looks like a poeticized prose expression. ללכת is a continuation of the ארח, according to Ew. 351, c, but not directly in the sense "and he goes," but, as in the similar examples, Jeremiah 17:10; Jeremiah 44:19; 2 Chronicles 7:17, and freq., in the sense of: "he is in the act of going;" comp. on Job 36:20 and Habakkuk 1:17. The utterance runs: a man does not profit, viz., himself (on the use of סכן of persons as well as of things, vid., on Job 22:2), by his having joyous and familiar intercourse (בּרצתו, as little equivalent to בּרוּץ as in Psalm 50:18) with God. Job has nowhere expressly said this, but certainly the declaration in Job 9:22, in connection with the repeated complaints concerning the anomalous distribution of human destinies (vid., especially Job 21:7, Job 24:1), are the premises for such a conclusion. That Elihu, in Job 34:7, is more harsh against Job than the friends ever were (comp. e.g., the well-measured reproach of Eliphaz, Job 15:4), and that he puts words into Job's moth which occur nowhere verbatim in his speeches, is worked up by the Latin fathers (Jer., Philippus Presbyter, Beda,

(Note: Philippus Presbyter was a disciple of Jerome. His Comm. in Iobum is extant in many forms, partly epitomized, partly interpolated (on this subject, vid., Hieronymi Opp. ed. Vallarsi, iii. 895ff.). The commentary of Beda, dedicated to a certain Nectarius (Vecterius), is fundamentally that of this Philippus.)

Gregory) in favour of their unfavourable judgment of Elihu; the Greek fathers, however, are deprived of all opportunity of understanding him by the translation of the lxx (in which μυκτηρισμόν signifies the scorn of others which Job must swallow down, comp. Proverbs 26:6), which here perverts everything.

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