Job 4:13
In thoughts from the visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on men,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(13) In thoughts from the visions of the night.—The Book of Genesis exhibits the same idea of revelation through visions of the night, e.g., Job 15:1; Job 20:3; Job 30:11; Job 40:5; Job 41:1; afterwards it is not common, except in the Book of Daniel. The word rendered “thoughts” only occurs once again, in Job 20:2. The “deep sleep” of this place is like a reminiscence of Genesis 2:21; Genesis 15:12. It is used again in Job 33:15, otherwise only once in 1Samuel 26:12, once in Proverbs 19:15, and once in Isaiah 29:10.

Job 4:13. In thoughts — Or, By reason of my thoughts; my perplexing thoughts. These thoughts, it seems, arose from the visions of the night, which, probably, he had had before, and were the occasion of the fear mentioned Job 4:14. Visions differed from dreams herein, that God imparted his mind to men in dreams when asleep, but in visions when they were awake. And these visions were sometimes communicated by day, but most frequently by night, whence we read of visions of the night, as Genesis 46:2; Job 20:8; and Job 33:15. And such this was, which made it the more terrible. When deep sleep falleth on men — In the dead of the night, when men usually are in a deep sleep, and all around is still and quiet. 4:12-21 Eliphaz relates a vision. When we are communing with our own hearts, and are still, Ps 4:4, then is a time for the Holy Spirit to commune with us. This vision put him into very great fear. Ever since man sinned, it has been terrible to him to receive communications from Heaven, conscious that he can expect no good tidings thence. Sinful man! shall he pretend to be more just, more pure, than God, who being his Maker, is his Lord and Owner? How dreadful, then, the pride and presumption of man! How great the patience of God! Look upon man in his life. The very foundation of that cottage of clay in which man dwells, is in the dust, and it will sink with its own weight. We stand but upon the dust. Some have a higher heap of dust to stand upon than others but still it is the earth that stays us up, and will shortly swallow us up. Man is soon crushed; or if some lingering distemper, which consumes like a moth, be sent to destroy him, he cannot resist it. Shall such a creature pretend to blame the appointments of God? Look upon man in his death. Life is short, and in a little time men are cut off. Beauty, strength, learning, not only cannot secure them from death, but these things die with them; nor shall their pomp, their wealth, or power, continue after them. Shall a weak, sinful, dying creature, pretend to be more just than God, and more pure than his Maker? No: instead of quarrelling with his afflictions, let him wonder that he is out of hell. Can a man be cleansed without his Maker? Will God justify sinful mortals, and clear them from guilt? or will he do so without their having an interest in the righteousness and gracious help of their promised Redeemer, when angels, once ministering spirits before his throne, receive the just recompence of their sins? Notwithstanding the seeming impunity of men for a short time, though living without God in the world, their doom is as certain as that of the fallen angels, and is continually overtaking them. Yet careless sinners note it so little, that they expect not the change, nor are wise to consider their latter end.In thoughts - Amidst the tumultuous and anxious thoughts which occur in the night. The Hebrew word rendered thoughts, (שׂעפים śâ‛ı̂phı̂ym), means thoughts which divide and distract the mind.

From the visions of the night - On the meaning of the word visions, see the notes at Isaiah 1:1. This was a common mode in which the will of God was made known in ancient times. For an extended description of this method of communicating the will of God, the reader may consult my Introduction to Isaiah, Section 7.

When deep sleep falleth on men - The word here rendered deep sleep, תרדמה tardêmâh, commonly denotes a profound repose or slumber brought upon man by divine agency. So Schultens in loc. It is the word used to describe the "deep sleep" which God brought upon Adam when he took from his side a rib to form Eve, Genesis 2:21; and that, also, which came upon Abraham, when an horror of great darkness fell upon him; Genesis 15:12. It means here profound repose, and the vision which he saw was at that solemn hour when the world is usually locked in slumber. Umbreit renders this, "In the time of thoughts, before the night-visions," and supposes that Eliphaz refers to the time that was especially favorable to meditation and to serious contemplation before the time of sleep and of dreams. In support of this use of the preposition מן mı̂n, he appeals to Haggai 2:16, and Noldius Concord. Part. p. 546.

Our common version, however, has probably preserved the true sense of the passage. It is impossible to conceive anything more sublime than this whole description. It was midnight. There was solitude and silence all around. At that fearful hour this vision came, and a sentiment was communicated to Eliphaz of the utmost importance, and fitted to make the deepest possible impression. The time; the quiet; the form of the image; its passing along, and then suddenly standing still; the silence, and then the deep and solemn voice - all were fitted to produce the proroundest awe. So graphic and so powerful is this description, that it would be impossible to read it - and particularly at midnight and alone - without something of the feeling of awe and horror which Eliphaz says it produced on his mind. It is a description which for power has probably never been equalled, though an attempt to describe an apparition from the invisible world has been often made. Virgil has attempted such a description, which, though exceedingly beautiful, is far inferior to this of the Sage of Teman. It is the description of the appearance of the wife of Aeneas:

Infelix simulacrum atque ipsius umbra Crousae

Visa mihi ante oculos, et nora major imago.

Obstupui, steteruntque comae, et vox faucibus haesit.

Aeneid ii.772.

- "At length she hears,

And sudden through the shades of night appears;

Appears no more Creusa, nor my wife,

But a pale spectre, larger than the life.

Aghast, astonished, and struck dumb with fear,

continued...

13. In thoughts from the visions of the night—[So Winer]. While revolving night visions previously made to him (Da 2:29). Rather, "In my manifold (Hebrew, divided) thoughts, before the visions of the night commenced"; therefore not a delusive dream (Ps 4:4) [Umbreit].

deep sleep—(Ge 2:21; 15:12).

In thoughts; in the midst of my thoughts, or by reason of my thoughts, my perplexing thoughts. the word properly signifies a branch, and thence a thought, as 1 Kings 18:21, which proceeds from the mind as branches from a tree, and a perplexing thought, which is entangled like the branches of a tree. These thoughts were the occasion of the following fear.

From the visions of the night: this may belong either to the thoughts last mentioned, or to the fear following; both which did arise

from the visions of the night, i.e. from the great importance and the terribleness of such visions, whereof probably he had had former experience, and now had an expectation of another of them, which God had raised and wrought in him, to prepare him the better for the reception of it. Visions differed from dreams herein, that God imparted his mind to a man in dreams when he was asleep but in visions when they were awake. And these visions sometimes happened by day, as Luke 1:22 Acts 10:17 Acts 26:19, but most frequently by night, whence we read of vision or visions of the night, as Genesis 46:2 Job 20:8 33:15. And such this was, which made it the more terrible.

When deep sleep falleth on men; in the dead of the night, when men usually are in a deep sleep; though Eliphaz was not now asleep, as appears from the nature of a vision, and from the following words. In thoughts from the visions of the night,.... While Eliphaz was thinking of and meditating upon divine things, or while he was revolving in his mind some night visions he had, before this was made unto him, see Daniel 2:29; in meditation the Lord is often pleased to make known more of his mind and will to his people; and this is one way in which he was wont to do it in former times, in a vision either in the day, as sometimes, or in the night, as at others, and as here, see Numbers 12:6,

when deep sleep falleth on men; on sorrowful men, as Mr. Broughton renders it; such who have been laborious all the day, and getting their bread with sorrow and trouble, and are weary; who as soon as they lie down fall asleep, and sleep falls on them, and to such it is sweet, as the wise man says, Ecclesiastes 5:12; now it was at such a time when men ordinarily and commonly are asleep that this vision was had.

In thoughts from the visions of the night, when deep sleep falleth on men,
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
13. This revelation which came to him secretly or “stealthily,” as the word means, was given in the dead of night. He had had visions on his bed, and perplexing, tangled thoughts filled his heart. God’s providence and ways to man, no doubt, were the subject of his thoughts.

The night was recognised of old as favourable to deeper thought from its stillness. Then the mind was less distracted and ranged more freely in the regions of higher truth. And revelations from heaven often came to men in the night-season; cf. Zechariah 1:8, and the story of Nathan’s oracle to David in regard to building the Temple, 2 Samuel 7:3-4; also the words of the Psalmist, “My reins also instruct me in the night-seasons,” Psalm 16:7.Verse 13. - In thoughts from the visions of the night; literally, in the perplexities of the visions of night; i.e. "in that perplexing time when - how, they know not - visions come to men." The word translated "thoughts" occurs only here and in Job 20:2. When deep sleep falleth on men. Something more than ordinary sleep seems to be meant - something more approaching to what we call "trance" (comp. Genesis 2:21; Genesis 15:12; 1 Samuel 26:12, where the same word is used). 6 Is not thy piety thy confidence,

Thy Hope? And the uprightness of thy ways?

7 Think now: who ever perished, being innocent?!

And where have the righteous been cut off?!

8 As often as I saw, those who ploughed evil

And sowed sorrow, - they reaped the same.

9 By the breath of Eloah they perished,

By the breath of His anger they vanished away.

10 The roaring of the lion, and the voice of the shachal,

And the teeth of the young lions, are rooted out.

11 The lion wanders about for want of prey,

And the lioness' whelps are scattered.

In Job 4:6 all recent expositors take the last waw as waw apodosis: And thy hope, is not even this the integrity of thy way? According to our punctuation, there is no occasion for supposing such an application of the waw apodosis, which is an error in a clause consisting only of substantives, and is not supported by the examples, Job 15:17; Job 23:12; 2 Samuel 22:41.

(Note: We will not, however, dispute the possibility, for at least in Arabic one can say, zı̂d f-hkı̂m Zeid, he is wise. Grammarians remark that Arab. zı̂d in this instance is like a hypothetical sentence: If any one asks, etc. 2 Samuel 15:34 is similar.)

continued...

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