He disappoints the devices of the crafty, so that their hands cannot perform their enterprise.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)So that their hands cannot perform their enterprise.—Or, so that their hands can do-nothing that is sound or of worth, can accomplish nothing effectual.Job 5:12. He disappointeth the devices of the crafty — On the contrary, he defeats the craftiest designs of evil and subtle men to exalt themselves. They may place a great deal of confidence in their own abilities, and, without any regard to the overruling hand of Providence, may imagine that their good or bad success in the world depends wholly on their own wisdom and efforts: they may form deep and secret designs; and, to the utmost stretch of their knowledge and foresight, may contrive and project measures which will have the most plausible appearance of accomplishing their purpose. But after all this dexterous management, should the Almighty once interpose, and throw an obstacle in their way, all their crafty devices are frustrated, and their promising expectations vanish away. So that their hands cannot perform their enterprise — Hebrew, תושׁיה, tushijah, a word of an extensive meaning, implying that which is solid and substantial, or which is wise, good, and virtuous. Instead of executing any thing of moment, any thing advantageous or praiseworthy; instead of having the satisfaction of seeing a prosperous event of their best-formed counsels, they quickly perceive with what weak hands they have been labouring, and that all their aspiring attempts are vain and fruitless.
So that their hands - So that they. The hands are the instruments by which we accomplish our plans.
Their enterprise - Margin, Or, "anything." Hebrew תשׁיה tûshı̂yâh. This word properly means uprightness from ישׁע yâsha‛; then help, deliverance, Job 6:13; then purpose, undertaking, enterprise, that is, what one wishes to set up or establish. Gesenius. This is its meaning here. Vulgate, "Their hands cannot finish (implere) what they had begun." Septuagint, "Their hands cannot perform that which is true" - ὰληθές alēthes. The Chaldee Paraphrase refers this to the defeat of the purposes of the Egyptians: "Who made vain the thoughts of the Egyptians, who acted wisely (or cunningly - דחכימו) that they might do evil to Israel, but their hands did not perform the work of their wisdom Job 5:13, who took the wise men of Pharaoh in their own wisdom, and the counsel of their perverse astrologers he made to return upon them." The general sense is, that artful and designing men - people who work in the dark, and who form secret purposes of evil, are disappointed and foiled. Eliphaz probably had seen instances of this, and he now attributes it to God as rendering him worthy of the confidence of people. It is still true. The crafty and the designing are often foiled in such a manner as to show that it is wholly of God. He exposes their designs in this way, and shows that he is the friend of the sincere and the honest; and in doing this, he shows that he is worthy the confidence of his people.Of the crafty; such as are cunning to work evil, and to cover it with fair pretences, as hypocrites use to do, and as Job’s friends charged him with doing: God breaks the hopes and designs of such men; as he hath now blasted thy expectation, and taken away thy outward happiness, which was the thing thou didst design in taking up the profession of religion.
Their enterprise; or, any thing; or, what is solid or substantial; or, wisdom, i.e. their wise counsel or crafty design. They cannot execute their cunning contrivances. Amos 8:4; but through the rain falling are not able to gain their end, but are obliged to bring out their corn, and sell it at a low price, and so are taken in their own craftiness; their counsel becomes brutish, and they are brought into bad circumstances themselves, and the poor saved from being ground and oppressed by them, and have hope for the future of plenty of provisions, to the confusion and astonishment of their oppressors: but the Targum interprets this of the Egyptians cunningly devising mischief against the Israelites, without success; and not amiss, since that affair might be well known to Eliphaz, and he might have it in view: the fact was this, a new king of Egypt, after the death of Joseph, observing the great increase of the people of Israel in his dominions, and fearing, in case of a war, they should join the enemy, and get out of the land by such an opportunity, calls his nobles, courtiers, and counsellors together, to form some wise schemes how to diminish them, Exodus 1:8; and the first was to set taskmasters over them, and afflict them with hard bondage, but this succeeded not, Exodus 1:11; for the more they were afflicted the more they multiplied and grew; another decree was, to order the midwives to kill the male children of the Israelites, and save alive the females, Exodus 1:15; but the midwives, fearing God, obeyed not the order, and the people still multiplied, Exodus 1:17; and then a third project was formed, to cast every son born to the Israelites into the river, and drown them, Exodus 1:22; but notwithstanding this they were preserved, as Moses, Exodus 2:10, and doubtless many others; the people increased so, that they went out of Egypt six hundred thousand men, Exodus 12:37; this was a recent thing, it may be in the times of Eliphaz, and which he might easily call to mind: and he might also have respect to a more remote case, that of the builders of Babel, who devised a scheme to build a tower, whose top should reach to heaven, and secure them from a dispersion of them throughout the earth, Genesis 11:1; when God descended in the display of his power and providence, confounded their language, so that they were obliged to desist from their enterprise, and were scattered throughout the earth, which by their scheme they thought to have prevented: this may be applied to wicked crafty men in common, who devise schemes to commit sin, and gratify their lusts, to get for themselves riches and honour, and to do mischief to others, which God in his providence breaks, frustrates, and makes of none effect; and to false teachers, that walk in craftiness, lie in wait to deceive, and make use of cunningly devised fables, coin new doctrines, invent new forms of worship, and appoint new ordinances, and contrive different ways and methods of salvation; all which is foolishness with God, and to such persons Job 5:13 is applied by the Apostle Paul, 1 Corinthians 3:19, and this may likewise respect wicked princes and potentates, with their counsellors and wise politicians, who in former, as well as in later times, have formed designs against their neighbours, and to the hurt of the interest of true religion particularly; but have been baffled and confounded by Divine Providence, of which, as there were many instances in Israel of old, so in our British Isles of late:
so that their hands cannot perform their enterprise; what their heads have contrived, what they have resolved and determined upon, and what they have began to effect, but could not go on with; or, "bring it soundly to pass", as Mr. Broughton renders it; that is, could not complete it, or bring it to perfection; and indeed not able to do "any thing" (n), as some translate the word, not anything of what they devised and contrived: it signifies "that which is", which has a being and substance, and solidity in it (o), but nothing of this kind could be done; it is sometimes rendered "wisdom", and "sound wisdom", Proverbs 2:7; and so it is here by some (p), and may signify, that though their counsels were deeply laid, and wisely formed, according to the best rules of wisdom and prudence, they yet are not able to bring them to pass; which shows the infinitely superior wisdom of God, and his overruling providence, and which therefore must be a great encouragement to seek unto him, and leave every cause and case with him.
(m) Aben Ezra, Jarchi, & R. Simeon Bar Tzemach. (n) "quicquam", Pagninus, Vatablus, Drusius, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "quicquam rei", Cocceius, Michaelis; so Kimchi in Sepher Shorash, rad. (o) "Consistentiam", Montanus; "nihil solidi", Tigurine version. (p) "Sapientiam", Schmidt; so Aben Ezra & Syr. ver. "astu", Codurcus.He disappointeth the devices of the crafty, so that their hands cannot perform their enterprise.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)12–16. Job 5:10-11 describe how the stream of God’s goodness acts when it moves directly, bearing up upon it the humble and those that mourn towards safety or salvation. These verses describe how the stream moves when it meets with obstacles, such as craft and evil.
he disappointeth] The same word is rendered, he frustrateth, Isaiah 44:25.
their enterprise] A difficult word to translate. It is a technical term of the Hebrew Wisdom or Philosophy, and, except in Isaiah 28:29, Micah 6:9, occurs only in Job and Proverbs. It seems to mean that which is essential. Hence it is said of a state or action when it corresponds to the idea; and conversely of thought when it corresponds to the reality, as ch. Job 11:6, Job 12:16. It is used here in the former sense (cf. ch. Job 6:13), and the words mean, their hands perform nothing effectual (Sept. true), or nothing to purpose.Verse 12. - He disappointeth the devices of the crafty; or, frustrateth - makes them of no effect (comp. Psalm 33:10; Isaiah 8:10). Some suppose Eliphaz to insinuate here that Job's apparent wisdom has not been true wisdom, but cunning or craft, and that therefore God has brought it to nought. But to us it rather seems that he enunciates a.general sentiment, and a true one. He is giving examples of the "marvellous things" which God does (ver. 9), and naturally enumerates among them his victories over the craft and cunning of his adversaries (comp. Isaiah 44:25). So that their hands cannot perform their enterprise; literally, and their hands accomplish nothing solid. No substantial result is effected by all their scheming.
And sorrow sprouteth not from the earth;
7 For man is born to sorrow,
As the sparks fly upward.
8 On the contrary, I would earnestly approach unto God,
And commit my cause to the Godhead;
9 To Him who doeth great things and unsearchable;
Marvellous things till there is no number:
10 Who giveth rain over the earth,
And causeth water to flow over the fields:
11 To set the low in high places;
And those that mourn are exalted to prosperity.
As the oracle above, so Eliphaz says here, that a sorrowful life is allotted to man,
(Note: Fries explains יוּלּד as part., and refers to Geiger's Lehrb. zur Sprache der Mischna, S. 41f., according to which מקטּל signifies killed, and קטּל ( equals Rabb. מתקטּל) being killed (which, however, rests purely on imagination): not the matter from which mankind originates brings evil with it, but it is man who inclines towards the evil. Bttch. would read יולד: man is the parent of misery, though he may rise high in anger.)
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