Then a spirit passed before my face; the hair of my flesh stood up:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)A spirit passed before my face.—It is vain to argue from this passage that spiritual essences are capable of being seen by the bodily eye, because, first of all, the language is highly figurative and poetical, and because, secondly, every one understands that a spiritual manifestation can be made only to the spirit. The notion, therefore, of seeing a spirit is absurd in itself, because it involves the idea of seeing the invisible; but it is conceivable that the perceptions of the inner spirit may be so vivid as to assume the character of outward manifestations.Job 4:15. Then — Hebrew, And, as the particle ו, vau, generally signifies. A spirit passed before my face — An angel in a visible shape, otherwise he could not have discerned it, nor would have been affrighted by it. The hair of my flesh stood up — Through that excessive consternation and horror, which seized me at the sight of so glorious and unusual an appearance.
The hair of my flesh stood up - This is an effect which is known often to be produced by fear. Sometimes the hair is made to turn white almost in an instant, as an effect of sudden alarm; but usually the effect is to make it stand on end. Seneca uses language remarkably similar to this in describing the effect of fear, in Hercule Oetoeo:
Vagus per artus errat excussos tremor;
Erectus horret crinis. Impulsis adhuc
Star terror animis. et cor attonitum salit,
Pavidumque trepidis palpitat venis jecur.
Steteruntque comae, et vox faucibus haesit.
See also Aeneid iii. 48, iv. 289. So also Aeneid xii. 868:
Arrectaeque horrore comae.
A similar description of the effect of fear is given in the Ghost's speech to Hamlet:
"But that I am forbid
deep sleep—(Ge 2:21; 15:12).Then, Heb. and, or for, as this particle is oft used. So this was the reason of the foregoing thoughts and fear.
A spirit; an angel in some visible shape, otherwise he could not have discerned it, nor would have been affrighted at it.
The hair of my flesh, i.e. of my body, as flesh is taken, Genesis 2:24 Psalm 16:9 119:120.
Stood up, through that excessive horror caused by so glorious, unusual, and terrible a presence; which God used to excite in men upon such occasions, to convince them that it was not a vain imagination or illusion, but a real vision and revelation, and that from God. 1 Kings 19:11; or such a whirlwind, out of which the Lord spake to Job, Job 38:1; or rather, as Jarchi, an angel, an immaterial spirit, one of Jehovah's ministering spirits, clothed in an human form, and which passed and repassed before Eliphaz, that he might take notice of it:
the hair of my flesh stood up; erect, through surprise and dread; which is sometimes the case, when anything astonishing and terrible is beheld; the blood at such times making its way to the heart, for the preservation of that, leaves the external members of the body cold, and the skin of the flesh, in which the hair is, being contracted by the impetuous influx of the nervous fluid, causes the hair to stand upright, particularly the hair of the head, like the prickles or hedgehogs (r); which has been usual at the sight of an apparition (s).
(q) "ventus", Vatablus, Cocceius, Schmidt, Broughton. (r) "Obstupui, steteruntque comae----". Virgil. Aeneid. l. 2. ver. 774. & l. 3. ver. 48. "arrectaeque horrore comae". Aeneid. 4. ver. 286. & l. 12. ver. 888. (s) Vid. Scheuchzer. Physic. Sacr. p. 665.Then a spirit passed before my face; the hair of my flesh stood up:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)15. then a spirit] Rather, a breath. It was something which he felt; that which he saw follows in Job 4:16. The word spirit does not seem used in the Old Testament in the sense of an apparition.Verse 15. - Then a spirit passed before my face. It has been argued (Rosenmuller) that "a breath of air," and not "a spirit," is intended; but, in that ease, how are we to understand the expressions in the following verse: "it stood still," "the form thereof," "an image"? A breath of air, the very essence of which is to be in motion, cannot stand still, nor has it any "form," "appearance," or "imago." Granted that the Hebrew ruakh (רוח) may mean - like the Greek πνεῦμα, and the Latin spiritus - either an actual spirit, or a breath, a wind, it follows that, in every place where it occurs, we must judge by the context which is meant. Here certainly the context points to an actual living spirit, as what Eliphaz intended. Whether a spirit really appeared to him is a separate question. The whole may have been a vision; but certainly the impression left on Eliphaz was that he had had a communication from the spirit-world. The hair of my flesh stood up. Not the hair of his head only, but every hair on his whole body, stiffened, bristled, and rose up on end in horror (see the comment on ver. 14).
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.)
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