Job 42:4
Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4) Hear, I beseech thee.—This cannot in like manner be appropriately assigned to Job, but, as in Job 38:3; Job 40:7, must be referred to God; then the confession of Job 42:5-6 comes in very grandly. How much of our knowledge of God is merely hearsay? and it is not till the experimental teaching of the Holy Ghost has revealed God to our consciences that we really see Him with the inward eye. The confession of Job, therefore, is the confession of every converted man. Compare in a much later and very different, and yet analogous sphere, the confession of St. Paul (Galatians 1:16).

Job 42:4. Hear, I beseech thee — Hear and accept my humble and penitent confession. I will demand of thee — Hebrew, אשׁאלךְ, eshaleka, interrogabo te, I will inquire, ask, or make my petition to thee. I will no more dispute the matter with thee, but beg information from thee. The words which God had uttered to Job by way of challenge, Job returns to him in the way of submission.

42:1-6 Job was now sensible of his guilt; he would no longer speak in his own excuse; he abhorred himself as a sinner in heart and life, especially for murmuring against God, and took shame to himself. When the understanding is enlightened by the Spirit of grace, our knowledge of Divine things as far exceeds what we had before, as the sight of the eyes excels report and common fame. By the teachings of men, God reveals his Son to us; but by the teachings of his Spirit he reveals his Son in us, Ga 1:16, and changes us into the same image, 2Co 3:18. It concerns us to be deeply humbled for the sins of which we are convinced. Self-loathing is ever the companion of true repentance. The Lord will bring those whom he loveth, to adore him in self-abasement; while true grace will always lead them to confess their sins without self-justifying.Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak - This is the language of humble, docile submission. On former occasions he had spoken confidently and boldly of God; he had called in question the equity of his dealings with him; he had demanded that he might be permitted to carry his cause before him, and argue it there himself; Notes, Job 13:3, and notes Job 13:20-22. Now he is wholly changed. His is the submissive language of a docile child, and he begs to be permitted to sit down before God, and humbly to inquire of him what was truth. "This is true religion."

I will demand of thee - Or rather, "I will ask of thee." The word "demand" implies more than there is of necessity in the original word (שׁאל shâ'al). That means simply "to ask," and it may be done with the deepest humility and desire of instruction. That was now the temper of Job.

And declare thou unto me - Job was not now disposed to debate the matter, or to enter into a controversy with God. He was willing to sit down and receive instruction from God, and earnestly desired that he would "teach" him of his ways. It should be added, that very respectable critics suppose that in this verse Job designs to make confession of the impropriety of his language on former occasions, in the presumptuous and irreverent manner in which he had demanded a trial of argument with God. It would then require to be rendered as a quotation from his own words formerly.

"I have indeed uttered what I understood not,

Things too wonderful for me, which I know not,

(When I said) Hear now, I will speak,

I will demand of thee, and do thou teach me"

This is adopted by Umbreit, and has much in its favor that is plausible; but on the whole the usual interpretation seems to be most simple and proper.

4. When I said, "Hear," &c., Job's demand (Job 13:22) convicted him of being "without knowledge." God alone could speak thus to Job, not Job to God: therefore he quotes again God's words as the groundwork of retracting his own foolish words. Hear and accept my humble and penitent confession and recantation.

I will demand of thee; or, and inquire, to wit, counsel or instruction, as a scholar doth of his master, as the following words note. I will no more saucily dispute the matter with thee, but beg information from thee. The words which God had uttered to Job by way of challenge, Job 38:3 40:7, Job returns to him again in way of submission.

Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak,.... Not in the manner he had before, complaining of God and justifying himself, but in a way of humble entreaty of favours of him, of confession of sin before him, and of acknowledgment of his wisdom, goodness, and justice in all his dealings with him, which before he arraigned;

I will demand of thee; or rather "I will make petition to thee", as Mr. Broughton renders it; humbly ask a favour, and entreat a gracious answer; for to demand is not so agreeable to the frame and temper of soul Job was now in;

and declare thou unto me; or make him know what he knew not; he now in ignorance applies to God, as a God of knowledge, to inform him in things he was in the dark about, and to increase what knowledge he had. He was now willing to take the advice of Elihu, and pursue it, Job 34:31.

Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will demand of thee, {d} and declare thou unto me.

(d) He shows that he will be God's scholar to learn of him.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. hear, I beseech thee] Or, hear now, and I will speak. The words are not an entreaty on the part of Job that the Almighty would further instruct him; they are a repetition of the words of the Lord (ch. Job 38:3, Job 40:7). The verse is closely connected with Job 42:5, which suggests under what feeling Job repeats the words of God to him. He recites the divine challenge and puts it away from him—“Declare unto thee! (Job 42:4) that be far from me; I had heard of thee with the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee” (Job 42:5). This is more natural than to suppose Job 42:4 uttered with a kind of self-irony, as if Job, in repeating the words of the divine challenge, also entered into the ironical spirit of it. In either case Job 42:5 has a half-apologetic meaning, accounting for Job’s former rashness.

Verse 4. - Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak; I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me, Job refers to God's words in Job 38:3 and Job 40:7, and realizes the humbling effect which they had had on him. They made him feel how little he knew on the subject of God's works and ways, and how little competent he was to judge them. Hence he bursts into the confession- Job 42:4 4 O hear now, and I will speak:

I will ask Thee, and instruct Thou me.

5 I had heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear,

And now mine eye hath seen Thee.

6 Therefore I am sorry, and Irepent

In dust and ashes.

The words employed after the manner of entreaty, in Job 42:4, Job also takes from the mouth of Jehovah, Job 38:3; Job 40:7. Hitherto Jehovah has interrogated him, in order to bring him to a knowledge of his ignorance and weakness. Now, however, after he has thoroughly perceived this, he is anxious to put questions to Jehovah, in order to penetrate deeper and deeper into the knowledge of the divine power and wisdom. Now for the first time with him, the true, living perception of God has its beginning, being no longer effected by tradition (ל of the external cause: in consequence of the tidings which came to my ears, comp. Psalm 18:45, comp. Isaiah 23:5), but by direct communication with God. In this new light he can no longer deceive himself concerning God and concerning himself; the delusion of the conflict now yields to the vision of the truth, and only penitential sorrow for his sin towards God remains to him. The object to אמאס is his previous conduct. נחם is the exact expression for μετανοεῖν, the godly sorrow of repentance not to be repented of. He repents (sitting) on dust and ashes after the manner of those in deep grief.

If the second speech of Jehovah no longer has to do with the exaltation and power of God in general, but is intended to answer Job's doubt concerning the justice of the divine government of the world, the long passage about the hippopotamus and the crocodile, Job 40:15-41:34, in this second speech seems to be devoid of purpose and connection. Even Eichhorn and Bertholdt on this account suppose that the separate portions of the two speeches of Jehovah have fallen into disorder. Stuhlmann, Bernstein, and De Wette, on the other hand, explained the second half of the description of the leviathan, Job 41:12-34, as a later interpolation; for this part is thought to be inflated, and to destroy the connection between Jehovah's concluding words, Job 41:2-3, and Job's answer, Job 42:2-6. Ewald forcibly rejected the whole section, Job 40:15, by ascribing it to the writer of Elihu's speeches-an opinion which he has again more recently abandoned. In fact, this section ought to have had a third poet as its writer. But he would be the double (Doppelgnger) of the first; for, deducting the somewhat tame לא אחרישׁ בדיו, Job 41:12, - which, however, is introduced by the interrupted description being resumed, in order now to begin in real earnest, - this section stands upon an equally exalted height with the rest of the book as a poetic production and lofty description; and since it has not only, as also Elihu's speeches, an Arabizing tinge, but also the poetic genius, the rich fountain of thought, the perfection of technical detail, in common with the rest of the book; and since the writer of the book of Job also betrays elsewhere an acquaintance with Egypt, and an especial interest in things Egyptian, the authenticity of the section is by no means doubted by us, but we freely adopt the originality of its present position.

But before one doubts the originality of its position, he ought, first of all, to make an earnest attempt to comprehend the portion in its present connection, into which it at any rate has not fallen from pure thoughtlessness. The first speech of Jehovah, moreover, was surprisingly different from what was to have been expected, and yet we recognised in it a deep consistency with the plan; perhaps the same thing is also the case in connection with the second.

After Job has answered the first speech of Jehovah by a confession of penitence, the second can have no other purpose but that of strengthening the conviction, which urges to this confession, and of deepening the healthful tone from which it proceeds. The object of censure here is no longer Job's contending with Jehovah in general, but Job's contending with Jehovah on account of the prosperity of the evil-doer, which is irreconcilable with divine justice; that contending by which the sufferer, in spite of the shadow which affliction casts upon him, supported the assertion of his own righteousness. Here also, as a result, the refutation follows in the only way consistent with the dignity of Jehovah, and so that Job must believe in order to perceive, and does not perceive in order not to be obliged to believe. Without arguing the matter with Job, as to why many things in the government of the world are thus and not rather otherwise, Jehovah challenges Job to take the government of the world into his own hand, and to give free course to his wrath, to cast down everything that is exalted, and to render the evil-doer for ever harmless. By thus thinking of himself as the ruler of the world, Job is obliged to recognise the cutting contrast of his feebleness and the divine rule, with which he has ventured to find fault; at the same time, however, he is taught, that - what he would never be able to do - God really punishes the ungodly, and must have wise purposes when, which He indeed might do, He does not allow the floods of His wrath to be poured forth immediately.

Thus far also Simson is agreed; but what is the design of the description of the two Egyptian monsters, which are regarded by him as by Ewald as out of place here? To show Job how little capable he is of governing the world, and how little he would be in a position to execute judgment on the evil-doer, two creatures are described to him, two unslain monsters of gigantic structure and invincible strength, which defy all human attack. These two descriptions are, we think, designed to teach Job how little capable of passing sentence upon the evil-doer he is, who cannot even draw a cord through the nose of the behmoth, and who, if he once attempted to attack the leviathan, would have reason to remember it so long as he lived, and would henceforth let it alone. It is perhaps an emblem that is not without connection with the book of Job, that these בהמות and לויתן (תנין), in the language of the Prophets and the Psalms, are the symbols of a worldly power at enmity with the God of redemption and His people. And wherefore should Job's confession, Job 42:2, not be suitably attached to the completed description of the leviathan, especially as the description is divided into two parts by the utterances of Jehovah, Job 41:2-3, which retrospectively and prospectively set it in the right light for Job?

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