Job 4:15
Then a spirit passed before my face; the hair of my flesh stood up:
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(15) 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.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.Then a spirit passed before my face - He does not intimate whether it was the spirit of a man, or an angel who thus appeared. The belief in such apparitions was common in the early ages, and indeed has prevailed at all times. No one can demonstrate that God could not communicate his will in such a manner as this, or by a messenger deputed from his immediate presence to impart valuable truth to people.

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.

So Virgil,

Steteruntque comae, et vox faucibus haesit.

Aeneid ii.774.

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


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).

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. Then a spirit passed before my face,.... Which some interpret of a wind (q), a blustering wind, that blew strong in his face; and so the Targum renders it, a stormy wind, such an one as Elijah perceived when the Lord spoke to him, though he was not in that, 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:
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). 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.)


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