Job 4:13
In thoughts from the visions of the night, when deep sleep falleth on men,
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(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,


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,
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). Job 4:1312 And a word reached me stealthily,

And my ear heard a whisper thereof.

13 In the play of thought, in visions of the night,

When deep sleep falleth on men,

14 Fear came upon me, and trembling;

And it caused the multitude of my bones to quake with fear.

15 And a breathing passed over my face;

16 It stood there, and I discerned not its appearance:

An image was before my eyes;

A gentle murmur, and I heard a voice.

The fut. יגגּב, like Judges 2:1; Psalm 80:9, is ruled by the following fut. consec.: ad me furtim delatum est (not deferebatur). Eliphaz does not say אלי ויגנּב (although he means a single occurrence), because he desires, with pathos, to put himself prominent. That the word came to him so secretly, and that he heard only as it were a whisper (שׁמץ, according to Arnheim, in distinction from שׁמע, denotes a faint, indistinct impression on the ear), is designed to show the value of such a solemn communication, and to arouse curiosity. Instead of the prosaic ממּנוּ, we find here the poetic pausal-form מנהוּ expanded from מנּוּ, after the form מנּי, Job 21:16; Psalm 18:23. מן is partitive: I heard only a whisper, murmur; the word was too sacred and holy to come loudly and directly to his ear. It happened, as he lay in the deep sleep of night, in the midst of the confusion of thought resulting from nightly dreams. שׂעפּים (from שׂעיף, branched) are thoughts proceeding like branches from the heart as their root, and intertwining themselves; the מן which follows refers to the cause: there were all manner of dreams which occasioned the thoughts, and to which they referred (comp. Job 33:15); תּרדּמה, in distinction from שׁנה, sleep, and תּנוּמה, slumber, is the deep sleep related to death and ecstasy, in which man sinks back from outward life into the remotest ground of his inner life. In Job 4:14, קראני, from קרא equals קרה, to meet (Ges. 75, 22), is equivalent to קרני (not קרני, as Hirz., first edition, wrongly points it; comp. Genesis 44:29). The subject of הפחיד is the undiscerned ghostlike something. Eliphaz was stretched upon his bed when רוּח, a breath of wind, passed (חלף( dessap, similar to Isaiah 21:1) over his face. The wind is the element by means of which the spirit-existence is made manifest; comp. 1 Kings 19:12, where Jehovah appears in a gentle whispering of the wind, and Acts 2:2, where the descent of the Holy Spirit is made known by a mighty rushing. רוּח, πνεῦμα, Sanscrit âtma, signifies both the immaterial spirit and the air, which is proportionately the most immaterial of material things.

(Note: On wind and spirit, vid., Windischmann, Die Philosophie im Fortgang der Weltgesch. S. 1331ff.)

His hair bristled up, even every hair of his body; סמּר, not causative, but intensive of Kal. יעמד has also the ghostlike appearance as subject. Eliphaz could not discern its outline, only a תמוּנה, imago quaedam (the most ethereal word for form, Numbers 12:8; Psalm 17:15, of μορφή or δόξα of God), was before his eyes, and he heard, as it were proceeding from it, רקל דּממה, i.e., per hendiadyn: a voice, which spoke to him in a gentle, whispering tone, as follows:

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