For you said, What advantage will it be to you? and, What profit shall I have, if I be cleansed from my sin?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Job 34:9, and examined it at some length, and had shown in reply to it that God could not be unjust, and that there was great impropriety when man presumed to arraign the justice of the Most High. He now adverts to it again in order to show that God could not be benefited or injured by the conduct of man, and that he was, therefore, under no inducement to treat him otherwise than impartially.
What advantage will it be unto thee? - see the notes at Job 34:9. The phrase "unto thee," refers to Job himself. He had said this to himself; or to his own soul. Such a mode of expression is not uncommon in the Scriptures.
And, What profit shall I have if I be cleansed from my sin - Margin, "or, by it" more than by my sin."" The Hebrew will admit of either of these interpretations, and the sense is not materially varied. The idea is, that as to good treatment or securing the favor of God under the arrangements of his government, a man might just as well be wicked as righteous. He would be as likely to be prosperous in the world, and to experience the tokens of the divine favor. Job had by no means advanced such a sentiment; but he had maintained that he was treated "as if" he were a sinner; that the dealings of Providence were "not" in this world in accordance with the character of people; and this was interpreted by Elihu as maintaining that there was no advantage in being righteous, or that a man might as well be a sinner. It was for such supposed sentiments as these, that Elihu and the three friends of Job charged him with giving "answers" for wicked people, or maintaining opinions which went to sustain and encourage the wicked; see Job 34:36.
What advantage will it, to wit, his righteousness last mentioned, be unto thee, i.e. unto me; such changes of persons being very frequent in the Hebrew language.
If I be cleansed from my sin; or, by the expiation of my sin; for the same Hebrew word signifies both to sin and to purge out or expiate sin. Or, by it (to wit, by my righteousness) more than by my sin. So the sense is, I have no more present benefit by all my care to please and serve God, than wicked men have by their sins against him. God regards my cries no more than theirs, and shows no more kindness or pity to me than he doth to the most profligate wretches. But still remember Job speaks not here of the future life, wherein he knew he should have much advantage, as he professed before, but only of this present state. Job 9:22. Man's own righteousness is of no advantage to him as to justification before God, and acceptance with him, nor in the business of salvation, or with respect to heaven and happiness, so as to give a right and title to it; bat is of great advantage in other respects; is for self-defence against the imputations and calumnies of wicked men; it makes a man honourable and respectable among men, when to live a vicious course of life is scandalous and reproachful; it gives pleasure and satisfaction to the mind, the testimony of a good conscience is matter of rejoicing; and such a man is free from the racks and tortures of an evil conscience others are distressed with; besides, good works are an evidence of the truth and genuineness of faith to others, and ornament the doctrines of the Gospel and a profession of them: and though a righteous man may be afflicted as others, yet in a different manner, in love and not in wrath, and always for his good;
and, what profit shall one have, if I be cleansed from my sin? The words, "if I be cleansed", are a supplement, and seem necessary; so Mr. Broughton supplies. Sin is of a defiling nature, yet man may be cleansed from it, not by anything he can do, but only by the grace of. God and blood of Christ; and from such a cleansing profit arises. This fits a man for the service and worship of God, and for communion with him; gives him peace of mind, and makes him meet for heaven. This Job had not expressly said, and not at all in this sense, but it seems to be inferred from Job 9:29; where he is speaking of outward purity of life, and yet was plunged into the ditch of afflictions. Some render the words to this sense, as if there was no profit "by expiation of atonement for sin" (u); the same word signifying both sin and atonement for it: there is none but by the blood and sacrifice of Christ, and much profit arises from that; pardon of sin proceeds upon it, and this furnishes out much solid peace, joy, and comfort, Romans 5:10. Others, what profit by punishment for sin (w), unless to God? so sin is sometimes put for punishment; or through leaving sin and repenting of it (x). Now though these are not the causes of the pardon of sin, yet it is given and applied to such who do repent of it, confess and forsake it, Proverbs 28:13. Or by being "without sin" (y): no man is without sin; but a man may be without any gross and enormous crime he is chargeable with, or without living a vicious course of life; and this is profitable, as has been before observed. Jarchi's paraphrase is,
"what shall I profit more by my righteousness than by my sin?''
which sense is followed by others: I may as well be wicked as righteous; I am not the better for it, since I am afflicted in the manner I:am: my righteousness is of no profit to me; if to any, it is to God. To this Elihu returns an answer in the following verses.
(u) "de expiatione mea", Mercerus, &c. "in expiando peccatum", Grotius; "pro piaculo venit", Cocceius; so Simeon Bar Tzemach in loc. (w) "Supplicio meo", Junius & Tremellius; "mucta pro illo aut poena", Cocceius; "ex poena peccati mei", Drusius; so Ben Gersom. (x) "Subaudi relicto", so Mercerus, Drusius; "remisso et per poenitentiam diluto", Munster. (y) "Absque peccato", i.e. "ita vivendo ut non perccom"; so some in Michaelis.For thou saidst, What advantage will it be unto thee? and, What profit shall I have, if I be cleansed from my sin?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verse 3. - For thou saidst What advantage will it be unto thee? i.e. What advantage will thy righteousness be unto thee? Job had certainly argued that his righteousness brought him no temporal advantage; but he had always a conviction that he would ultimately be the better for it. Elihu, however, does not acknowledge this; and, assuming that Job expects to receive no advantage at all from his integrity, argues that God is not bound to afford him any. And, What profit shall I have, if I be cleansed from my sin? rather, And what profit shall f have, more than if I had sinned? (see the Revised Version, and compare the comments of Rosenmuller and Canon Cook).
So that thou hast to determine, not I,
And what thou knowest speak out!
34 Men of understanding will say to me,
And a wise man who listeneth to me:
35 "Job speaketh without knowledge,
"And his words are without intelligence."
36 O would that Job were proved to the extreme
On account of his answers after the manner of evil men;
37 For he addeth transgression to his sin,
Among us he clappeth
And multiplieth his speeches against God.
The question put to Job, whether then from him or according to his idea (עם in מעמּך as Job 23:10; Job 27:11, which see) shall God recompense it (viz., as this "it" is to be understood according to Job 34:32: man's evil-doing and actions in general), Elihu proves from this, that Job has despised (shown himself discontented with it) the divine mode of recompense, so that therefore (this second כּי signifies also nam, but is, because extending further on account of the first, according to the sense equivalent to ita ut) he has to choose (seek out) another mode of recompense, not Elihu (who is perfectly satisfied with the mode with which history furnishes us); which is then followed by the challenge (דּבּר not infin., but as Job 33:32): what (more corresponding to just retribution) thou knowest, speak out then! Elihu on his part knows that he does not stand alone against Job, the censurer of the divine government of the world, but that men of heart (understanding) and (every) wise man who listens to him will coincide with him in the opinion that Job's talk is devoid of knowledge and intelligence (on the form of writing השׂכּיל as Jeremiah 3:15, vid., Ges. 53, rem. 2).
In Job 34:36 we will for the present leave the meaning of אבי undecided; יבּחן is certainly intended as optative: let Job be tried to the extreme or last, i.e., let his trial by affliction continue until the matter is decided (comp. Habakkuk 1:4), on account of the opposition among men of iniquity, i.e., after the manner of such (on this Beth of association comp. בּקּשׁשׁים, Job 36:14), for to חטּאת, by which the purpose of his affliction is to be cleared up, he adds פּשׁע, viz., the wickedness of blasphemous speeches: among us (therefore without fear) he claps (viz., his hands scornfully together, יספּוק only here thus absolute instead of ישׂפּק כּפּיו fo dae, Job 27:23, comp. בשׂפק Job 36:18 with ספקו Job 20:22)
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