If you were pure and upright; surely now he would awake for you, and make the habitation of your righteousness prosperous.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)If thou wert pure and upright.—Of course, then, there is but one inference: thou art not pure and upright. These are verily the wounds of a friend which are not faithful. Bildad brings to the maintenance of his point the experience of former generations. He wishes to be very orthodox in his assertions, and to base his statements upon authority, and he appeals to the experience of former ages long gone by, and calls them to attest the truth of what he says. He also, like Eliphaz, uses figures, and has recourse to metaphor, only his figures are highly obscure and admit of various explanations. We give that which seems to commend itself most to us. It appears, then, that Bildad contemplates two representative characters, the two which are so prominent throughout this book—namely, the righteous and the wicked. He depicts the latter first, and describes him under the likeness of the paper-reed, or rush that grows in the mire of Egyptian swamps, which, though surrounded with moisture, yet as a matter of fact is liable soon to wither: so is the wicked man, according to this moralist and philosopher. He is surrounded by mercies and blessings, but they avail him nought; he withereth in the midst of abundance.Job 8:6. If thou wert pure and upright — That is, of a sincere heart and blameless life toward God and men; surely now he would awake for thee — יעיר, jagnir, excitarit se, he would raise, or stir up himself. Thus David prays, using the same word, Stir up thyself, and awake to my judgment. And make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous — He would certainly have a regard to thee, and restore the concerns of thy house and family to their former splendour. He says the habitation of thy righteousness, to signify that if it were such, and he would manage his affairs with righteousness and not wrongfully, God would prosper him accordingly; and perhaps also to intimate, that because he had not prospered they had cause to suspect that he had acquired his property by fraud and oppression.
He would awake for thee - He would arouse or excite himself יעיר yā‛ı̂r on thy account. The image is that of arousing oneself from sleep or inactivity to aid another; and the idea is, that God had, as it were, slumbered over the calamities of Job, or had suffered them to come without interposing to prevent them, but that he would arouse himself if Job were pure, and would call upon him for aid.
And make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous - That is, if thy habitation should become righteous now, he would make it prosperous. Hitherto, is the idea of Bildad, it has been a habitation of wickedness. Thy children have been wicked, and are now cut off. Thou thyself hast been a wicked man, and in consequence art afflicted. If now thou wouldest become pure and seek unto God, then God would make thy habitation prosperous. What could more try the patience of a sufferer than such cold and unfeeling insinuations? And what could more beautifully illustrate the nature of true courtesy, than to sit unmoved and hear such remarks? It was by forbearance in such circumstances eminently that Job showed his extraordinary patience.
make … prosperous—restore to prosperity thy (their) righteous habitation. Bildad assumes it to have been heretofore the habitation of guilt.
pure and upright, i.e. of a sincere heart and blameless life towards God and men. But God’s severe dealing with thee is an evident token, that notwithstanding all thy fair shows, thou art but a hypocrite and secret sinner. And this sense may seem to agree both with the same charge brought in against Job by Eliphaz, Job 4:6,7, and with the following discourse, particularly with Job 8:13,20. Or thus, If thou wouldst be pure and upright, i.e. if thou wouldst join reformation to thy supplication. And this sense may seem best to suit with the foregoing verse, according to the common translation.
Awake for thee, i.e. bestir himself to help thee, as being his faithful friend and servant, whom he could not in honour or justice forsake; whereas now he shows a deep sleep, and wholly neglects thee, and turneth a deaf car to all thy prayers; which showeth what opinion he hath of thee.
The habitation, i.e. the concerns of thy house and family; a usual metonymy.
Of thy righteousness; either,
1. Which thou hast got and managed with righteousness; so he calls it by way of supposition; if it were so, God would prosper thee accordingly. But because thou dost not prosper, it gives us cause to suspect that thou hast got thy estate by fraud and oppression. Or,
2. Which thou shalt now manage with justice, and not wrongfully, as thou hast done.
surely now; directly at once, without delay, as Sephorno interprets it; it need not be doubted of, verily so it would be:
he would awake for thee; who though he neither slumbers nor sleeps, yet seems to be asleep when he suffers his people to be afflicted, distressed, and oppressed, and therefore they cry unto him to awake to their judgment, and their cause; see Psalm 7:8; the sense is, that he would stir up and exert himself, and show himself strong on his behalf, and appear to be on his side, and work deliverance and salvation for him; or awake his mercy, grace, and goodness, as some Jewish commentators (p) interpret it; that is, bestow his favours upon him:
and make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous; which some understand of his body, the earthly house of his tabernacle, which if his soul was pure and upright that dwelt in it, might be called the habitation of righteousness; which, were this the case, would become healthful that was now covered with worms, and clods of dust: others interpret it of the soul, as Aben Ezra and Ben Gersom, the seat of righteousness, and of all the graces of the Spirit; which is in a prosperous condition when these graces are in lively exercise, and the presence of God, and the light of his countenance, and communion with him, are enjoyed; but rather his dwelling house in a literal sense, and all his domestic affairs, are here meant; and it is signified that all would be again in peace and prosperity, and he should enjoy great plenty of good things should he behave well; and here is a tacit intimation as if his habitation had not been an habitation of righteousness, but had been filled with the mammon of unrighteousness, with goods ill gotten, such as were obtained by rapine and oppression, and neither he nor his family righteous; a very unjust and iniquitous insinuation: the Targum paraphrases it, "and, shall make the beauty of thy righteousness perfect" (q); but Job had a more beautiful righteousness than his own; his was but as rags, and neither pure nor perfect; even the righteousness of Christ, which is perfect and beautiful, and makes such so, that are arrayed with it; see Psalm 50:2.If thou wert pure and upright; surely now he would awake for thee, and make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)6. if thou wert pure] Or, if thou be pure, cf. subjunctive in ch. Job 11:15.
surely now he would awake] Rather, surely now he will awake. The words, if thou wilt seek, Job 8:5, suggest the right point of view from which to look at the words, if thou be pure, &c. The whole passage refers to the conduct which Bildad hopes for from Job. The meaning, therefore, does not seem to be, If thou be pure, as thou sayest, and as we have supposed thee; but rather, If thou become pure, through penitence, and by letting afflictions work the fruits of righteousness, cf. ch. Job 11:13 seq.
make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous] Or, restore thy righteous habitation, that is, restore the lost prosperity (cf. Joel 2:25) of thy habitation, now become the abode of righteousness. Bildad comes out with his suspicions of Job’s guilt much more explicitly than Eliphaz did; and similarly Zophar, ch. Job 11:13.Verse 6. - If thou wert pure and upright. Job had asserted this, not in so many words, but substantially (Job 6:29, 30). We have God's testimony that it was true (Job 1:8; Job 2:3); not, of course, in the sense that he was absolutely free from sin, but in that qualified sense in which "just," and "righteous," and "pure," and "holy" can be properly used of men. Bildad implies, without boldly asserting it, that he does not believe Job to deserve the epithets, either absolutely or in a qualified sense. If he were so, Surely now he (i.e. God) would awake for thee. This is a common anthropomorphism (see Psalm 7:6; Psalm 35:25; Psalm 44:23; Psalm 59:4, 5; Isaiah 51:9). And make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous; or, make peaceful the habitation wherein thy righteousness dwelleth; i.e. make peaceful the habitation wherein thou, a righteous man ex hypothesi dwellest.
O Observer of men,
Why dost Thou make me a mark to Thee,
And am I become a burden to Thee?
21 And why dost Thou not forgive my transgression,
And put away my iniquity?
For now I will lay myself in the dust,
And Thou seekest for me, and I am no more.
"I have sinned" is hypothetical (Ges. 155, 4, a): granted that I have sinned. According to Ewald and Olsh., אפעל־לך מה defines it more particularly: I have sinned by what I have done to Thee, in my behaviour towards Thee; but how tame and meaningless such an addition would be! It is an inferential question: what could I do to Thee? i.e., what harm, or also, since the fut. may be regulated by the praet.: what injury have I thereby done to Thee? The thought that human sin, however, can detract nothing from the blessedness and glory of God, underlies this. With a measure of sinful bitterness, Job calls God האדם נצר, the strict and constant observer of men, per convicium fere, as Gesenius not untruly observes, nevertheless without a breach of decorum divinum (Renan: O Espion de l'homme), since the appellation, in itself worthy of God (Isaiah 27:3), is used here only somewhat unbecomingly. מפגּע is not the target for shooting at, which is rather מטּרה (Job 16:12; Lamentations 3:12), but the object on which one rushes with hostile violence (בּ פּגע). Why, says Job, hast Thou made me the mark of hostile attack, and why am I become a burden to Thee? It is not so in our text; but according to Jewish tradition, עלי, which we now have, is only a סופרים תקון, correctio scribarum,
(Note: Vid., the Commentary on Habakkuk, S. 206-208; comp. Geiger, Urschrift und Uebersetzungen der Bibel, S. 308ff.)
for אליך, which was removed as bordering on blasphemy: why am I become a burden to Thee, so that Thou shouldest seek to get rid of me? This reading I should not consider as the original, in spite of the tradition, if it were not confirmed by the lxx, εἰμὶ δὲ ἐπὶ σοὶ φορτίον.
It is not to be objected, that he who is fully conscious of sin cannot consider the strictest divine punishment even of the smallest sin unjust. The suffering of one whose habitual state is pleasing to God, and who is conscious of the divine favour, can never be explained from, and measured according to, his infirmities: the infirmities of one who trusts in God, or the believer, and the severity of the divine justice in the punishment of sin, have no connection with one another. Consequently, when Eliphaz bids Job regard his affliction as chastisement, Job is certainly in the wrong to dispute with God concerning the magnitude of it: he would rather patiently yield, if his faith could apprehend the salutary design of God in his affliction; but after his affliction once seems to him to spring from wrath and enmity, and not from the divine purpose of mercy, after the phantom of a hostile God is come between him and the brightness of the divine countenance, he cannot avoid falling into complaint of unmercifulness. For this the speech of Eliphaz is in itself not to blame: he had most feelingly described to him God's merciful purpose in this chastisement, but he is to blame for not having taken the right tone.
The speech of Job is directed against the unsympathetic and reproving tone which the friends, after their long silence, have assumed immediately upon his first manifestation of anguish. He justifies to them his complaint (ch. 3) as the natural and just outburst of his intense suffering, desires speedy death as the highest joy with which God could reward his piety, complains of his disappointment in his friends, from whom he had expected affectionate solace, but by whom he sees he is now forsaken, and earnestly exhorts them to acknowledge the justice of his complaint (ch. 6). But can they? Yes, they might and should. For Job thinks he is no longer an object of divine favour: an inward conflict, which is still more terrible than hell, is added to his outward suffering. For the damned must give glory to God, because they recognise their suffering as just punishment: Job, however, in his suffering sees the wrath of God, and still is at the same time conscious of his innocence. The faith which, in the midst of his exhaustion of body and soul, still knows and feels God to be merciful, and can call him "my God," like Asaph in Psalm 73, - this faith is well-nigh overwhelmed in Job by the thought that God is his enemy, his pains the arrows of God. The assumption is false, but on this assumption Job's complaints (ch. 3) are relatively just, including, what he himself says, that they are mistaken, thoughtless words of one in despair. But that despair is sin, and therefore also those curses and despairing inquiries!
Is not Eliphaz, therefore, in the right? His whole treatment is wrong. Instead of distinguishing between the complaint of his suffering and the complaint of God in Job's outburst of anguish, he puts them together, without recognising the complaint of his suffering to be the natural and unblamable result of its extraordinary magnitude, and as a sympathizing friend falling in with it. But with regard to the complaints of God, Eliphaz, acting as though careful for his spiritual welfare, ought not to have met them with his reproofs, especially as the words of one heavily afflicted deserve indulgence and delicate treatment; but he should have combated their false assumption. First, he should have said to Job, "Thy complaints of thy suffering are just, for thy suffering is incomparably great." In the next place, "Thy cursing thy birth, and thy complaint of God who has given thee thy life, might seem just if it were true that God has rejected thee; but that is not true: even in suffering He designs thy good; the greater the suffering, the greater the glory." By this means Eliphaz should have calmed Job's despondency, so as to destroy his false assumption; but he begins wrongly, and consequently what he says at last so truly and beautifully respecting the glorious issue of a patient endurance of chastisement, makes no impression on Job. He has not fanned the faintly burning wick, but his speech is a cold and violent breath which is calculated entirely to extinguish it.
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