Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
CHAPS. 1:1–22, 2:1–13
1. Job’s Character and Course of Life. (Job 1:1–15.)
1There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil. 2And there were born to him seven sons and three daughters. 3His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men [sons] of the East.—4And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day [Now his sons were wont to hold a feast at the house of each one on his (birth)-day], and [they] sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them. 5And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them [that he might make atonement for them, Z.], and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed, [renounced, bid farewell to] God in their hearts!—Thus did Job continually.
2. The Divine Determination to try Job through Suffering
a. The milder form of trial by taking away his possessions
6Now there was a day [it came to pass on a day, or, on the day] when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord [Jehovah], and Satan came also among them. 7And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. 8And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that [for] there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God and escheweth evil?—9Then Satan answered the Lord, 10and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast thou not made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased [spread abroad] in the land. 11But put forth Thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and [verily] he will curse Thee to Thy face. 12And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power [hand], only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord.
13And there was a day [it came to pass on the day], when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house: 14and there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were ploughing, and the [she] asses feeding beside them: 15and the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have slain [smitten] the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. 16While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. 17While he was yet speaking there came also another, and said, The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have carried them away, yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword: and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. 18While he was yet speaking there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy 19daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house: and behold, there came a great wind from [beyond] the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men [people], and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
20Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon 21the ground, and worshipped, and said: Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: The Lord [Jehovah] gave, and the Lord [Jehovah] hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord [Jehovah]. 22In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly [nor uttered folly against God].
b. The severer trial, the loss of health.
1Again there was a day [and it came to pass on a day (Z.), or: Now it was the day] when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord. 2And the Lord said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. 3And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that [for] there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst Me against him to destroy him without cause. 4And Satan answered the Lord and said, Skin for skin, yea [and] all that a man hath will he give for his life. 5But put forth Thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse Thee to Thy face. 6And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold he is in thine hand; but 7[only] spare his life. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown. 8And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes. 9Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity. Curse [renounce] God, and die! 10But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What! shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.
3. The Visit of the Friends and their Mute Sympathy as an Immediate Preparation for the Action of the Poem
11Now when [or, Then] Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, [and] they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite; for [and] they had made an appointment together to come [or: they met together by appointment] to mourn with him, and to comfort him. 12And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven. 13So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief [affliction] was very great.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1. Job’s character and course of life. Job 1:1–15.
Job 1:1. There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job. Literally, A man was in the land of Uz, etc.: the order of the words as in 2 Sam. 12:1; Esth. 2:5. On the name אִיּוֹב see Introduction, § 1, and Note.—בְּאֶרֶץ עוּץ, Vulg.: in terra Hus; LXX.: ἐν χώρᾳ τῇ ’Αυσίτιδι. Comp. the more precise definition: ἐν τῇ Ἀυσίτιδι ἐπὶ τοῖς ὁρίοις τῆς Ἰδουμαίας καὶ Ἀραβίας (in the addition at the end of the book) which gives with general accuracy the position of the country. For we are certainly constrained to place it in the region lying North-East of Edomitis towards the Arabian desert. We cannot identify it with any locality within the land of the Edomites, nor with that land itself, as some writers, ancient and modern, have undertaken to do. For 1. In Job 1:3 Job is represented in general terms as belonging to the בְּנֵי קֶדֶם, the “sons of the East,” i.e., as a North Arabian, an inhabitant of the Syro-Arabian desert which extends eastward from Transjordanic Palestine to the Euphrates (comp. 1 Kings 5:10 [A. V.: 4:30] Isai. 11:14; Jerem. 49:28; Ezek. 25:4).—2. The Sabeans and Chaldeans are, according to Job 1:15 and 17, neighbors, dwelling in adjacent territory.—3. The Αἰσῖται (Αἰσεῖται) mentioned by Ptolemy V., 19:2, as neighbors of Babylonia on the West, under the Caucabenes, are assuredly none other than the inhabitants of the country we are considering.—4. Jerem. 25:20 sq., clearly and definitely distinguishes between Uz and Edom. The expression in Lam. 4:21, “O daughter of Edom, that dwellest in the land of Uz,” does not affirm the identity of the two countries, but rather refers to an expansion of the boundaries of Edom which at some time took place, so as to include the land of Uz (comp. Nägelsbach on both the passages cited).—5. In Gen. 10:23, Uz, the patriarchal founder of the country, after whom it was named, appears as the immediate descendant of Aram; in Gen. 22:21, as the son of Nahor, the brother of Abraham; and in Gen. 36:28 as the grand-son of Seïr, the ancestor of the Horite aborigines of Idumea. None of these passages in Genesis brings Uz into genealogical relation to Edom, though they clearly make him appear as geographically his neighbor.—6. Again Job 2:11 of our book (Eliphaz the Temanite), also Job 32:2 (Elihu the descendant of Buz; comp. Gen. 22:21, where the same Buz appears as the son of Nahor and the brother of Uz) argue for a relation of co-ordination between the countries of Uz and Edom.—7. Josephus (Ant. I., 6, 4) names Οὖσος, the son of Aram (Gen. 10:23) as the founder of Trachonitis and Damascus. This reference, resting as it does on a primitive tradition, contains an indirect contradiction of the supposition that Uz was an Idumean province; rather is the inference probable that at one time it extended further North, as far as South-eastern Syria.—8. The Syro-Arabian tradition of the Middle Ages and of modern times fixes the place where Job lived at a considerable distance North, or North-East from Seïr-Edom, to wit, in the fruitful East-Hauranitic province el-Bethenije (Nukra), which Abulfeda calls “a part of the territory of Damascus,” and within which at this day are pointed out a “Place of Job” (Makam-Ejûb) and a Monastery of Job (Dair-Ejûb), both situated south of Nawa on the road leading north to Damascus (comp. Fries in the Stud. und Krit., 1854, II.; and especially J. C. Wetstein: “The Monastery of Job in Hauran, and the Tradition of Job,” in the Appendix to Delitzsch’s Commentary, II. 395 sq., Clark, Edinb.). We are indeed scarcely to look for the home of our hero so far North as these sacred localities of the Christian-Mohamedan tradition concerning Job, or as the location favored by the hypothesis of Bochart, Ilgen, J. H. Michaelis, etc., which regards the valley al-Gutha situated not far from Damascus, as the Uz of Scripture. At the same time the considerations here presented make it far more probable that it belonged to the territory of East-Hauran (not necessarily of Hauran in Palestine, or the eastern portion of Manasseh), than that it was identical with any locality in Edom South, or South-West from Palestine. [“The so-called universalism of the writer is apparent here. His hero is a stranger to Judaism and the privileges of the peculiar people, living in a foreign country. The author saw that God was not confined to the Jew, but was and must be everywhere the father of His children, however imperfectly they attained to the knowledge of Him; he saw that the human heart was the same, too, everywhere, that it everywhere proposed to itself the same problems, and rocked and tossed amidst the same uncertainties; that its intercourse with heaven was alike, and alike awful in all places; and away down far in that great desert stretching into infinite expanse, where men’s hearts drew in from the imposing silence, deep, still thoughts of God, he lays the scene of his great poem. He knows, Jew though he be, that there is something deeper far than Judaism, or the mere outward forms of any dispensation, that God and man are the great facts, and the great problem their connection.” Davidson]. And that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God and eschewed evil. These four attributes, of which תָּם (literally integer, whole, complete) here denotes moral integrity, and hence blamelessness, while יָשָׁר denotes uprightness, righteousness,—are not simply co-ordinate, but “the first furnishes the foundation of the second, and the last two conjointly of the first two,” (Hahn). For the fear of God and eschewing evil are obviously mentioned as the ground or source of blamelessness and uprightness (comp. Prov. 1:7); the religious characteristics serve to explain the moral. The ו before יְרֵא is thus explanatory, and might, as in Job 1:8 and Job 2:3, be dispensed with. [Lee remarks well on תָּם that it “seems to be synonymous with the Greek τέλειος, 1 Cor. 2:6; 14:20, etc., and to signify complete in every requisite of true religion, ‘thoroughly furnished unto all good works,’ rather than perfect in the abstract; and hence תֻּמָּה Job 2:3 is rather the exercise of true religion, than perfection or integrity in the abstract.” Delitzsch defines thus: “תָּם, with the whole heart disposed towards God and what is good, and also well-disposed toward mankind; יָשָׁר in thought and action without deviation conformed to that which is right, יְרֵא אֱלֹהים, fearing God. and consequently being actuated by the fear of God which is the beginning (i.e., principle) of wisdom; סָר מֵרָע, keeping aloof from evil, which is opposed to God.” Ewald and Davidson cor-relate תָּם and יְרֵא אֱלֹהִים, as descriptive of the inner qualities of a righteous man, יָשָׁר and סָר מֵרָע as descriptive of his outer life].
Job 1:2. And there were born to him seven sons and three daughters. The description of his piety is immediately followed by that of his prosperity, showing first of all how he prospered in his family, how rich he was in children. The high significance which attached to this species of wealth and happiness, according to the Old Testament view, may be seen from Job 21:8, 11; 29:5, of our book, and also Ps. 127, 128. The number of sons, it will be observed, far exceeds that of daughters; this being in accordance with the tendency, prevalent alike in ancient and in modern times, to magnify the importance of those by whom the family life and name are perpetuated, and to regard that man as specially fortunate, who is blessed with a preponderance of male descendants (comp. Prov. 17:6). The number of sons, moreover, and the number of daughters, are sacred numbers of special symbolical significance, their sum likewise forming a sacred number; and again, in the summary which follows of the patriarch’s possessions, we find the same numbers recurring, as multiples of one thousand. It has already been shown in the Introduction, § 8, near the beginning, how in these unmistakably ideal numerals we recognize, notwithstanding the prose form, the essentially poetic character of the Prologue; and the same is true of the Epilogue (see Job 42:12, 13).
Job 1:3. His substance also was seven thousand sheep and three thousand camels, etc. [“It is a large, princely household.” Del.] “Although Job is not to be regarded as a wandering Bedouin, but as a settled prince, or Emir (Job 1:4, 18; 29:7; 31:32), who also engaged in agriculture (Job 1:14; 5:23; 31:8, 38 sq.), his wealth is nevertheless, after the manner of those countries, estimated according to the extent of his flocks and herds (מִקְנֶה), together with the servants thereto appertaining.” Dillm.—Five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses. צמד, a yoke, i.e., pair, oxen being worked in pairs in tilling the land (Job 1:14). Only the she asses are mentioned (comp. on the other hand Gen. 12:16; 32:15), as forming the most valuable part of this species of cattle property. In Syria even yet they are far more numerously owned than the males, and sold at three times the value of the latter; and this not so much for the milk as for breeding (comp. Wetzstein in Delitzsch; also Rosenmüller’s Altes und Neues Morgenland, III., 319).—And a very great household (very many servants). עֲבֻדָּה רַבָּה, precisely as in Gen. 26:14, brought into connection with wealth in cattle, which, as the more important, is mentioned first. The Targ. takes עֲבֻדָּה to be the same with עֲבֹדָה, 1 Chron. 27:26, meaning husbandry. This interpretation, which the Septuagint seeks after its fashion to combine with the common one (καὶ ὑπηρεσία πολλὴ σφόδρα, καὶ ἔργα μεγάλα ἧν αὐτῷ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς), is condemned by the analogy of the parallel passage in Gen. 26:14, as well as by the singular unanimity with which exegetical tradition favors the signification we have given.—So that this man was the greatest of all the sons of the East. [“Vav consec. imperf. summing up the issue of the foregone: all which made Job the greatest of the Orientals.” Davidson.] On בני־קדם see above on Job 1:1, also Introd., § 5. For גָּדוֹל in the sense of rich and distinguished, see Gen. 24:35; 26:13; Eccles. 2:9. [“The sons of the East are the inhabitants of the regions East of Palestine. Although elsewhere the term designates the Arabians, who constitute the principal element of the population between Canaan and the Euphrates, here it cannot be referred specially to them, for Job was not an Arabian, and Uz belonged rather to the Aramaic race.” Hengst. Schlottmann calls attention to the fact that the name “Saracen” is Arabic for “men of the East.” E.]
Job 1:4, 5 describe and illustrate Job’s remarkable piety, presenting a single characteristic of the same, which at the same time prepares the way for a better understanding of the narrative which follows. [These verses serve a threefold use in the narrative: primarily, they furnish the historical occasion for the terrible calamities which follow; incidentally, they contain a striking illustration of Job’s tender and conscientious piety; and, finally, they present a pleasing picture of patriarchal family life in its affectionate harmony and joyousness.—E.]
Job 1:4. Now his sons were wont to hold a feast in the house of each one on his birth-day.—Lit.: “And his sons went and made a feast,” etc. The verb “went” here, as the perf. consec. וְהָֽלְכוּ shows, refers not to an action which took place once, but to one which was wont to recur at definite times. [“It does not exhibit the whole religious expression of Job’s life, but only one remarkable custom in it; hence being independent, vav has not the imperf. consecutive, but the simple perf., expressing here a single past action which the connection shows to have been customary.” DAV.] Since מִשְׁתֶּה denotes not the ordinary daily meal, but, as the derivation from שתה proves, a feast of entertainment, a banquet attended with wine-drinking (Job 1:13), a συμπόσιον, convivium, it is impossible to take יוֹמוֹ (Accus. tempor.) in the sense of a daily recurrence of these meals, thus assuming that every week the dinner passed round in rotation to each of the seven brothers (Hirzel, Oehler, Kamph., Del. [Hengstenberg, Words.]). This would be a living in riot and revelry, all the more unbecoming since by such an arrangement the parents would be excluded altogether from the family-circle, whereas the sisters would be, contrary to Eastern custom, the habitual companions of their brothers at the table. Evidently יוֹם denotes a day marked by special observance and feasting (comp. Hos. 1:11; 2:15; 7:5); whence it would seem to have been either some annual festival, of general observance, such as the harvest festival, so widely observed in antiquity, or the spring festival (so Ewald, Vaih., Heil., Hahn, Dillm. [Dav.]); or else the birth-day festival of either one of the seven brothers (Rosml., Umbr., Welte, Schlott. [Wem., Carey, Rod., Bar., Elz.]). The latter seems to be most favored by Job 3:1, where יוֹם (as also in Hosea 7:5) evidently stands in the sense of birth-day (Gen. 40:20); with this moreover stands in special harmony what we find in Job 1:13 and 18, to wit, that special prominence is twice given to the circumstance that Job’s calamities came to pass on the day when his firstborn son was lost; this very coincidence of those fearful visitations with the birth-day festival of his first-born (the רֵאשִׁית אונוֹ, the firstling of his strength, comp. Gen. 49:3). constituting for the unfortunate father a tragic climax of sorrow, such as could not have befallen him had any other festivity been the occasion which brought the children together to undergo their common doom. The opening words of the verse following are indeed cited against this view; the fact, it is alleged, that we find mentioned there a cycle of days as “the days of their feasting,” and that it was not until they were ended that Job performed his purification, requires, on the assumption that these days were the birth-days of the seven sons, that the cycle should be distributed over the entire year, which would lead us to the untenable conclusion that but one expiation was offered in the year, namely, at the end of the last birth-day festival (comp. Dillm.). But why this conclusion should be pronounced untenable certainly does not appear. Moreover there is nothing at all to prevent our supposing that the birth-days of the seven sons, or indeed of all the ten children, were not very far apart, that, e.g., they all fell within one half-year. And then, over and above all, it would seem that excessively fine-spun speculation as to the question how the author conceived the circulation or the expiration (הִקִּיף) of the festal days must result in some violence to the character of the narrative, which is not rigidly historical, but poetic and ideal. For this reason we must reject Schlottmann’s endeavor to represent each of the birth-day festivals mentioned in the account as lasting several days, thus assuming that Job’s expiatory sacrifice was made at the close of each such festival. This supposition would make it necessary for us to read quite too much between the lines, to say in Job 1:4 that יוֹמוֹ means the first in each series of feast-days, while in Job 1:5, by יְמֵי הַמִּשְׁתֶּה are meant the several days of each festival of days (with which, however, the verb הִקִּיף, to go round, devolvi, does not agree).
[Zöckler’s argument in favor of the birth-day theory is ingenious and suggestive, but not altogether satisfactory. The account in the text is so brief and general as to make absolute certainty impossible. The impression, however, which the narrative most naturally makes on the reader is: (1) That the days of the feast followed each other in immediate succession; in other words, that the seven feasts were given on seven successive days in the houses of the seven brothers in regular order from the oldest to the youngest; and (2) that at the end of the week, probably on the morning of the eighth day, Job’s sacrifice was offered. This is the simple and natural deduction from the narrative as it stands, and it is not easy to harmonize with it the theory that the feasts were held on a series of birth-days, separate from each other by an interval, longer or shorter. The suggestion that each birth-day feast lasted several days, and that Job’s sacrifice was offered at the end of those days, is clearly shown by Z to be unwarranted, and at variance with the statement conveyed by the הִקִּיף. We are thus reduced either to (a) the daily theory, advocated by Hirzel, etc.; or to (b) the theory of an annual festival (spring or harvest, or both). But such an interminable carousal as (a) would imply, is, as Z. shows, highly improbable, and not to be assumed without the gravest necessity. In favor of (b), on the contrary, may be urged: (1) The prevalence in antiquity of those simple season-festivals. (2) The especial probability that such feasts would be observed in a patriarchal community, like Job’s family, belonging, as it evidently does, to the period of transition from a pastoral nomadism to a settled agricultural life. (3) The correspondence between the number of Job’s sons and the seven days of the festival week. (4) The absence of Job, which would be unnatural if these were birth-day festivals, may be at least more readily accounted for on such an occasion of simple secular merry-making as, e.g., a harvest festival. (Schlottmann well remarks that if the festival had been religious in its character, Job, as patriarchal priest, would have stood more in the foreground).
Z.’s remark that the double mention of the fact that the fatal feast was held in the house of the first-born, becomes doubly significant, if the day were his birth-day, is certainly striking, but of less weight than the other considerations presented above. The specification of the place of entertainment imparts greater reality to the narrative; the further specification of the house of the first-born still further deepens the tragic impression of the story, by suggesting that the calamity struck the banqueters on the very first day of their festivities.—E.]—And sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them.—This invitation which was always extended to the sisters (who, we are to suppose, were living with their mother), is made specially prominent as showing “the inner mutual relation which the father had established among his children” (HIRZEL). [“And they used to send and invite—an independent fact; the author lifts it out of dependence to emphasize it, for the purpose of showing the beautiful harmony and affection of Job’s family one to another, and the generous and free-hearted magnificence of the sons, and also the possibility of the coming catastrophe which swept away sons and daughters at once. The father had no relish for this kind of enjoyment; but no peevish dislike of it, or of those who had, being a wise and liberal man, wishing the happiness of all about him, and pleased to see them enjoy themselves in their own, not his way, so only they do it innocently and religiously. The sons of Job seem to have had establishments of their own, and the daughters lived apart with the mother. On the irregularity of fem. שְׁלשֶׁת with fem, noun, comp. Gen. 7:13; Jer. 36:23(where the gend. are both right and wrong); Zech. 3:9.” DAV.]
Job 1:5. And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, i.e., when the period through which their mutual invitations ran, that which embraced their frequent birth-day festivals, had run its course (הִקִּיף, comp. that which has been said above against Schlott). [Good: “And it came to pass, as the days of such banquets returned,” etc., which is not only opposed to the plain meaning of the verb, but at variance with the obvious design of Job’s sacrifice, which was retrospective, not anticipatory, offered for the sins which he feared they had committed, not for those which he feared they might commit. A similar rotatory system of banquets is said to prevail in China. “They have their fraternities which they call the brotherhood of the months; this consists of months according to the number of the days therein, and in a circle they go abroad to eat at one another’s houses by turns.” Semedo’s History of China, quoted by Burder, Oriental Customs.—E.] יְמֵי הַמִּשְׁתֶּה is to be understood collectively, “the days of the banquets, of entertaining” not as a strict singular, of one feast distributed over several days.—That Job sent that he might atone for them.—He sent for them for this end; for the efficacy of sacrifices of purification depended on the presence of those in whose behalf they were made. וַיְקַדְּשֵׁם, literally: “and sanctified, consecrated them,” defining the object of וישלח. How the sanctification took place, we are told in what follows. The term expresses not merely the preparation for the expiation, the lustration or washing preceding the sacrifice, as Rosmlr., Arnh., Hirz., Vaih., Heil., Dillm. affirm, on the strength of passages like Ex. 19:10; Josh. 7:13; 1 Sam. 16:5. [Zöckler seems to regard the “sanctification” here as a part of the general rite of expiation which Job performed, and thus as taking place at the same time. The other theory, maintained by the majority of commentators (including, in addition to those named above, Hengst., Dav., Con.), is supported by the following considerations: “(1) The general usage of the verb קדש, the essential signification of which in its transitive forms is to dedicate, purify for holy service. See Ges. and Fürst’s Lex. (2) The analogy of the Mosaic and other rituals, in which preparatory rites of purification are the rule. It is true that the author of the book is careful to put himself and his characters outside of the Mosaic system,1 and avoids even here, as we shall see below, any identification of Job’s sacrifices with the Mosaic. Preparatory riles, lustrations, and the like, are however common to all religions, and there is no reason to suppose that the author would shrink from introducing a feature of such general observance because it belongs to the Mosaic ritual. It is in harmony with this that we find (3) in Ex. 19:10 the direct recognition of a preparatory rite of purification (the same word being used there as here), before the Sinaitic code had been given, whereby the prevalence of such a rite in the pre-Mosaic period is clearly implied (comp. Gen. 35:21). (4) The order of terms in the passage under consideration—“sent,” “purified,” “rose early,” “offered”—certainly agrees best with the supposition that on the evening of the seventh day he sent and secured the purification of his children, their preparation for the solemn holocaust of the morrow, and then rose early on the morning of the eighth day, and in presence of his assembled children consummated the sacrifice. Had only one sacrificial rite been designated, the natural order would have been “rose,” “sent,” “purified,” “offered.” (5) The absolute use of וישלח makes it exceedingly doubtful whether we can with Z. render it: “and he sent for them.” At the same time, as Z. admits, the impressiveness and efficacy of the sacrifice required that those for whom it was made should be present. This leaves us no alternative but to regard the sanctification and the offering as two distinct rites, the former secured by Job’s mandate in his absence, the latter performed by him in person, and in the presence of his children. When to this we add the separation of the two verbs “sanctified” and “offered” by the verb “rose early,” the conclusion here reached seems irresistible.—E.]—And rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt-offerings, according to the number of them all.—The comprehensive magnificence of the sacrifice made it necessary that he should rise early. [His rising early may also be taken as an indication of his zeal, and of his earnest desire to make the expiation as promptly as possible. “Job made his offering in the morning because in the morning the feelings are most freely and most strongly inclined toward religious contemplation. The saying: Morgenstunde hat Gold im Munde (the morning hour has gold in its mouth), is true not only of work, but also of prayer.” HENGST.—E.] וישכם perf. consec. as in Job 1:4. [“הֶֽעֱלָה refers not so much to bringing it up to the raised altar, as to causing it to rise in flame and smoke, causing to ascend to God who is above.” DEL]. מספּר כלם, and according to the number of them all (accus. of nearer definition, Ewald, § 300, c. [Green, § 274, 2]). Job, it will be observed, offered burnt-offerings, not sin-offerings (so again in Job 42:8). This is quite in accordance with the pre-Mosaic patriarchal period, which, as all the historical references to sacrifices in the book of Genesis also show, was not yet acquainted with the sin-offering instituted later by Moses. [An indication of the care and skill with which our author preserves the antique coloring of his narrative.—E.] Another genuinely patriarchal trait is furnished in the fact that Job, in his character as father, appears also in the character of priest of the household, offering its sacrifices. Comp. Introduction, § 2.—For Job said: in the first instance, naturally, to himself, or in prayer to God; but surely also in speech to others, as a formal statement of his principle, and explanation of his course. It is a needless weakening of the אמר to explain with Ewald, Hahn, etc.: “for Job thought.”—It may be that my sons have sinned, and renounced God in their hearts; to wit, in the intoxication of their abandonment to pleasure, in the wanton or presumptuous spirit produced by their merrymaking (comp. Prov. 20:1; Isa. 5:11; 28:7, etc.). Thus it is that Job gives utterance here to that extraordinary earnestness and zeal in fulfilling the Divine will, which leads him to ascribe the highest importance to the avoidance, or, when necessary, the expiation of all sins, even of the heart and the thought. Comp. Job 31:24, sq. בֵּרֵךְ, “to bless, to salute,” is also used (e.g., Gen. 47:10; 1 Kings 8:66) of bidding farewell to” [taking leave of], here, however, still more definitely in a bad sense, taking leave of one in a hostile spirit; dismissing, renouncing. So also in Job 1:11 and Job 2:5, 9. The word also admits of the signification “to curse” (comp. Ps. 10:3 [?]; 1 Kings 21:10); but most surely this is not the meaning here, where sins of thought simply are referred to. [The bifurcation of definitions, so that the same word is used in a good and a bad sense, is a well-known characteristic of the Hebrew in common with other Semitic languages. Thus חֶסֶד, grace, is used Pro. 14:34 in the sense of disgrace. Or, the word in its radical signification is a vox media, acquiring its ethical character from the specific application made of it, of which we have a happy illustration in בֵּרֵךְ, primarily to kneel, and so to invoke; hence to bless, or to curse, according to the nature of the invocation. And still further: from the meaning to invoke, comes to salute, which again may be to salute with good-will, or with ill-will; in the latter case (if at parting) to dismiss, warn off, renounce. Compare the analogous uses of χαίρειν and valere. Of the harsher definition, to curse, it may be observed that: (1) We are not restricted to it. The context does not absolutely require it. We are justified both by usage and analogy in adopting the milder definition, to forsake, dismiss. (2) It is more natural to suppose that the children of Job, nurtured, as they must have been, by so tender and conscientious a father, should have been betrayed, during their festivities, into a wanton thoughtlessness, a pleasure-loving alienation from God, than into positive blasphemy. (3) It is more natural to assume that the pious patriarch would be accustomed to fear the former, than the latter more heinous evil, in the case of his children. Mark the statement: “thus did Job continually.” (4) The qualifying predicate, “in their hearts,” agrees better with the idea of forgetting, or forsaking God in feeling, than with that of blasphemy. The latter would seek some overt expression. (5) Job’s loving and faithful solicitude for the spiritual welfare of his children is much more strikingly exhibited, if we regard it as prompted by anxiety lest they should have been guilty of even the most secret infidelity in thought or disposition, than if we assume the graver offence to be intended. Lee, following Parkhurst, thinks that Job suspected his children of a tendency to idolatry, and translates: “It may be my sons have sinned and blessed the gods in their hearts.” It is sufficient answer to this to say that it violates the usus loquendi of אֱלֹהִים, and especially of בֵּרֵךְ אֱלֹהִים in our book, that we are not constrained to render the verb: “to bless,” and that it is opposed to the internal probabilities of the case. “The only false religion we know, from the internal evidence of the poem itself, to have existed at this period, was that of Sabiism, or the worship of the heavenly bodies; but there is nothing to render it even probable that the sons of Job were attached to this.” GOOD. The author just quoted (Good) seeks to avoid what he considers the difficulty in the case by giving to the particle ו here a negative sense, under “a philological canon,” which he lays down as follows: “that the imperfect negative may be employed alone in every sentence compounded of two opposite propositions, where it becomes the means of connecting the one with the other, such propositions being in a state of reciprocal negation;” and he would translate: “peradventure my sons may have sinned, nor blessed God in their hearts.” His own illustrations, however, fail to establish his choice, as in every instance the connective particle has of itself a negative force, such as does not belong to the ו. It is certainly inapplicable to the simple structure of the Hebrew. Merx in his recent version violently and arbitrarily assails the integrity of the text here and elsewhere, where the like expression occurs. In his own text he substitutes קלל for ברךְ. It is enough to say of this change that, as appears from what has been said above, the necessity for it is altogether imaginary, and that the sole authority for it is the subjective non possumus of the critic.—E. “Job is afraid lest his children may have become somewhat unmindful of God during their mirthful gatherings. In Job’s family, therefore, there was an earnest desire for sanctification, which was far from being satisfied with mere outward propriety of conduct.” DEL. “It is curious that the sin which the father’s heart dreaded in his children, was the sin to which he himself was tempted, and into which he almost fell. The case of his sons shows one kind of temptation—seduction; and his own case the other—compulsion and hardship.”—DAV.]—Thus did Job continually.—יַעֲשֶׂה, was wont to do. Comp. Ewald § 136, c. [Green § 263, 4]. כל הימים, literally, “all the days,” i.e., continually, always, so long as the particular occasion continued, or so often as it occurred anew. Comp. Deut. 4:10; 6:24; 11:1; 1 Sam. 2:32.
[“Where now such piety was to be found, and such conscientious solicitude to keep his whole house free from sin, there we might expect, judging after the manner of men, that prosperity would abide permanently. This at least we might expect from the stand-point of theory, which regards the outward lot as an index of the moral worth, which assumes piety and prosperity to be inseparable and convertible conceptions But in Heaven it was otherwise decreed.” DILLMANN].
2. The Divine determination to try Job through suffering. a. The milder trial, the taking away of his possessions, a. The preparatory scene in heaven, Job 1:6–12.
[“Against human expectation and beyond human conception the direst suffering overtakes the pure, pious Job. Whence it came no believer could doubt; but why it came was for the sufferer and his contemporaries a great and difficult problem, with the solution of which they grappled in vehement conflict. The reader of the book would also have remained in entire ignorance of the Divine decree, and would have followed the labyrinthine sinuosities of the contending parties, not with superior discriminating judgment, but with an uncomfortable uncertainty, if the poet had here simply related the calamity into which the pious Job had been plunged by God. It was therefore a correct feeling which influenced the poet to indicate at the outset to the reader the Divine grounds of the decree, and thus to provide for him a polestar which would guide him through all the entanglement of the succeeding conflicts. This he does by disclosing to us those events, occurring in heaven, which led to the Divine decree concerning Job, the execution of which thereupon follows. No less fine a conception of the poet is the circumstance that the calamity which Job must bear does not overwhelm him all at once, but comes upon him in two visitations, lying somewhat apart in time; the first visitation deprives him of the greatest part of his riches and his children, the second plunges him into the most fearful, and, at the same time, the most hopeless [disease. Both visitations wound his feelings in different ways, until on all sides they are tried most thoroughly. Between the two is an interval of rest, in which the stricken one can collect his feelings, and set himself right before God. And as in the second visitation his suffering reaches its climax, so also does his virtue.” DILLMANN].
Job 1:6. Now it came to pass on a day.—Gesenius, Ewald, Dillmann, etc., would translate הַיּוֹם, “the day,” or “that day,” giving to the article a retrospective construction. But this favorite mode of expression is found at the beginning of a narrative even when it cannot be considered to have any reference to what has preceded, and where accordingly the translation “at the time specified” is out of the question; e.g., 2 Kings 4:18. The article here, therefore, is used “because the narrator in thought connects the day with the following occurrence, and this frees it from absolute indefiniteness.” DEL. [“We are justified by no analogy in explaining the article as designating the definite day to which that which follows belongs. Ewald rightly explains ‘the day’ as an indefinite chronological link connecting what follows with what precedes. So also 1 Sam. 1:4; 14:1; 2 Kings 4:18. Compare ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῆ ἡμέρα. Matt. 13:1.” SCHLOTT. Others (Dav., Bar., Con.) explain it of the day appointed for the Divine Court (Chald.: day of judgment at the new year), which is not essentially different from the view of Del. adopted by Zöck. In any case it is to be observed that הַיּוֹם is not nominative, but accusative of time.—E.]—When the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord.—These words describe the convening of a heavenly assembly, of a celestial סוֹד (Job 15:8; comp. Jer. 23:18; Ps. 89:8). Compare the similar description in 1 Kings 22:19 sq., also Isa. 6:1 sq. בְּנֵי הָאֱלֹהִים, the sons of God, i.e., the angels, heavenly spirits; a name to be found also in Job 38:7; Gen. 6:2 [?]; and with slight modification in Ps. 29:1; 89:7; Dan. 3:25. Elsewhere in our book we find them called “servants,” “messengers” (Job 4:18), or “saints” (holy ones, Job 5:1; 15:15). The name “sons of God” points to the peculiar manner of their creation, which took place before the lower spheres of nature or mankind were made (Job 38:4–7), as well as to the peculiarly high degree in which they partake of the Divine likeness, and enjoy inward communion with God. [“The word son naturally expresses descent; and hence various related notions such as inheritor, the idea of similarity, relation, etc. So a son of God will be one inheriting the nature or character of God, one descended from Him, or like Him. This similarity may be of two kinds: first, in essential nature, that is, spirit—hence the angels as distinguished from man and agreeing with God completely in this respect are called sons of God; second, in ethical character, that is, holiness, in which sense pious men are called sons of God (Gen. 6:2). In the former and in the latter sense the holy angels have a right to the title; and in the former sense, though not in the latter, Satan is still named a son of God as inheriting a spiritual nature, and appears in the celestial court.” DAV].
לְהִתְיַצֵּב עַל יְהוָֹה, literally, to set themselves over, i.e., before Jehovah. עַל (instead of which we have elsewhere, e.g., Prov. 22:29לִפְּנֵי) “is a usage of language derived from the optical illusion of the one who is in the foreground seeming to range above the one in the background.” DEL. Comp. Job 2:1; Zech. 6:5; also the similar expression עמד על in 1 Kings 22:19. [עַל, “as if the King sat, and the courtiers stood over him (Isa. 6:2, מִמַּעַל in a higher degree of the seraphim floating around him off the ground. Drechsler); but this is dubious, for עַל is used where such sense is inadmissible (Judg. 3:19; with Judg. 6:31; Gen. 24:30” DAV.] To set themselves before Jehovah is to assume the customary attitude of servants awaiting the command of their master.—And Satan also came among them.—[Literally, the Satan. “In 1 Chron. 21:1 the name is used without the art.; i.e., has ceased to be appellative and become proper—Satan. In our book and Zechariah the art. is used, and we should perhaps render: the Satan, the adversary. In 1 Kings 22:19, where a scene greatly resembling the present is discovered, the tempter bears no name; but his individuality is distinct, for he is characterized as the spirit. The use of the art. cannot be of any great weight as an argument as to the era of our book.” DAV.] Concerning the signification of the name הָשָּׂטָז (instead of which we are not, with Eichhorn, Herder, Ilgen, Stuhlmann, etc., to read חַשָּׁטָן, ὁ περιοδεύτης, the world-spy, from שׁוּט, Job 1:7), as also concerning the relation of the representation of Satan in our book, to that of the other Old Testament books generally, see Doctrinal and Ethical remarks.
Job 1:7. And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou?—מֵאַיִך תָּבֹא, the sense being: whence art thou just now coming? the imperf. expressing the immediate present [Satan being conceived as in the act of making his appearance.—E.] (Ewald, § 136, b). The question is certainly not simply “for the purpose of introducing the transaction” (Dillm.); there lies more in it, to wit, the intimation that Satan’s ways are not God’s ways; that it is his wont to roam about, a being without stability, malicious, intent upon evil; that there is in his case a reason, which does not exist in the case of God’s true children, the angels, why God should inquire after his crooked and crafty ways, and compel him thereby to give an account of his restless, arbitrary movements. As Cocceius has truly said: “Satan is represented as transacting his own affairs as it were without the knowledge, i.e., without the approbation of God.” (Comp. Seb. Schmidt, p. 25, and Lud w. Schulze, in the Allg. literar. Anzeiger, 1870, Oct., p. 270). From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.—UMBREIT is right in calling attention to the curt brevity of this reply of Satan’s. It is also to be noted, however, that the answer is of necessity somewhat general, giving rise to the expectation that Jehovah will follow with a more particular question (comp. Delitzsch). שׁוּט בְּ describes the more rapid passage through a place, scouring it from one end to another (comp. Num. 11:8) [of the people scattering themselves to collect manna]; 2 Sam. 24:2 [of the census taken when David numbered the people]; likewise the Synon. שׁוֹטֵט (Amos 8:12; Jerem. 5:1; Zech. 4:10; 2 Chron. 16:9): הִתְהַלֵּךְ describes the more deliberate movement of one who is traveling for observation (Zech. 1:10, 11; 6:7; comp. Gen. 3:8; also the περιπατεῖν of the adversary, who goes about espying whom he may devour, 1 Pet. 5:8). [Acc. to Ges., שׁוּט is a verb denominative from שׁוּט, whip, scourge; and is used in Kal. of rowing (Ezek. 27:8), i.e. lashing the sea with oars, and of running to and fro in haste, pr. so as to lash the air with one’s arms as with oars, “happily enough describing Satan’s functions, ‘going about,’ inspecting, tempting, trepanning, taking up evil reports of all men” (DAV.). The signification “to compass” (Sept. περιελθων) is not exact.—E.]. Here belongs the Arabic designation of the devil as El-Harith, the busy-body, ever-active, zealous one. [“In the life of Zoroaster (see Zend Avesta, by J. G. Kleuker, vol. 3., p. 11), the prince of the evil demons, the angel of death, whose name is Engremeniosch, is said to traverse the whole earth far and wide, with intent to oppose and injure in every possible way all good men.” ROSENM.]
Job 1:8. Hast thou considered my servant Job?—Literally, hast thou set thine heart on, etc.שִׂים לֵב = animadvertere [“animum advertere, for לֵב is animus, נֶפֶשׁ, anima,” DEL.], construed here with עַל [“of the object on which the attention falls,” DEL.], as in Hag. 1:5, 7; below, Job 2:3, with אֶל [“of the object towards which it is directed,” DEL.]. For there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, etc.כִּי, “for,” giving the reason not for the title, “my servant” (HIRZ.), but for the circumstance that Jehovah makes special inquiry after this man. The four qualities predicated concerning Job are repeated here from Job 1:1 (with the omission, however, of the Vav connective between the two pairs). In this, the impress of the epic-narrative character of this section of the book is visible, and it appears again in the refrain-like repetitions of Job 1:16, 17, 18. The same may be observed in the Mosaic account of the creation, Gen. 1. [“The Deity reiterates the description of Job given by the historian; it is, therefore, a first principle and action of the drama that Job was sinless, keeping all the commandments with a perfect heart, and in spite of this—which Job himself knew, and which the author knew—nay, because of this, he was grievously tormented. And herein just lay the problem for Job and the overwhelming strength of the temptation, leading him in the madness of despair, both physical and speculative, to renounce God to his face, and assert the government of the world to be hopelessly chaotic and unjust. Spirits like that of Job could not be reached in meaner ways; passion has long been mastered; there is nothing but his very strength and calmness and faith to work upon; his first principles, the laborious deductions of a religious life, and the deepest experience of a loving heart—confusion must be introduced there, between the man’s notions of God and providence, and his necessary ideas of right on the one side, and on the other the actual appearance of the universe fearfully contravening them, thus leading him into atheism.… His trial was not for his sin, but for his sinlessness, to prove and establish it.… Job’s sufferings had no doubt relation to his sin, they gave him deeper views of it, and of God’s holiness; but that is not the great truth the book teaches.” DAV. It is significant, as Hengstenberg observes, that in these preliminary transactions, which at length issued in Job’s trial, Jehovah takes the initiative. He directs Satan’s attention to the piety of Job; it is his use of the argument which Job’s character furnishes in favor of the reality of godliness in a human life that evokes the Adversary’s malignity in the challenge which fires the train of Job’s calamities. To such an extent is the agency of Satan secondary and subordinate throughout, that not only must he receive God’s permission before he can proceed one step against Job, but the very occasion through which he obtains that permission is gratuitously provided for him by God. So absolute is the Divine Sovereignty. Thus completely are even the occasions of evil within the limitations of the Divine will. And thus is our confidence strengthened at the outset in the ultimate inevitable triumph of the Divine purpose.—E.].
Job 1:9. Doth Job fear God for naught? [A little more literally: For naught hath Job feared God? חִנָּם, emphatic by position; יָרֵא, which above in Job 1:1, 8 is a participle, here a Pret. (Perf.) of that which has been hitherto, and still is.—E.]. חִנָּם, gratis, from חֵן, gratia, here equivalent to gratuitously, groundlessly, without good reason [LXX. δωρεάν comp. the δωρεάν of John 15:25) without reward, or profit. [“Genuine love loves God, חִנָּם; it loves Him for His own sake; it is a relation of person to person, without any actual stipulations and claim.” DEL. Satan denies this of Job. Compare the three-fold use of חִנָּם in this book; by Satan of Job here; by God of Satan, Job 2:3; by Job of God, Job 9:17.—E.] The question, which is asked in order to throw suspicion on the pure and disinterested character of Job’s piety, is thoroughly characteristic of Satan in his character of Accuser of men (κατήγωρ, Rev. 12:10; διάβολος, Matt. 4:1, etc.). [“This question: Does Job serve God for naught? is the problem of the book.” DAV.].
Job 1:10. Hast thou not made a hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side?—The figure used here, borrowed from the enclosure of a garden or a field for protection against wild beasts (Matt. 21:33), is somewhat analogous to the modern figurative expression: “to make one’s bed warm and soft for him. [אַתָּ (without the final ה) emphatic: Hast not Thou made a hedge about him? Thou—the Almighty One, whose protection is all-sufficient. Ought he not to serve Thee, his Defender and Benefactor? Would not self-interest prompt him to this?—E.]. שׂוּךְ, sepire, to hedge about, as in Hos. 2:8. [Here in a good sense, for protection; below, 3:23, in a bad sense, to straiten. Good remarks that “to give the original verb the full force of its meaning, it should be derived from the science of engineering, and rendered: ‘Hast thou not raised a palisade about him?’ But this last term is not sufficiently colloquial.” Wemyss unnecessarily assumes the hedge here to be a guard of angels. The Arabic has: “Hast thou not protected him with thy hand?” The Chald. Paraphrase: “Hast thou not covered him with thy word?” The Coptic: “Hast thou not been a fence to his possessions?”—E.] The preposition בְּעַד it is much better to derive from a verb בָּעַד, synonymous with the root בגד, to cover, to veil [with which root it is also cognate: see Ewald, § 217, m], than from the prepositions בְּ and עַד, of which most regard the word as compounded (as is held even yet by Delitzsch, and Dietrich in his Ed. of Gesen. Lex.). There lies in the three-fold repetition of this word a special emphasis, which is still further strengthened by the addition, at the close of the question, of מִסָּבִיב, round about, on every side, “without leaving a gap through which harm might enter.” DILLM.—LXX.: “Hast thou not hedged round the parts without him, and the inner parts of his house, and that which is without all his possessions round about?”] Thou hast blessed the work of his hands. מַעֲשֵׂת יָדָיו (as in Ps. 90:17; Deut. 2:7; 14:29, etc.), a general designation of all a man’s enterprises and activities. Compare as to sense the parallel passage, Gen. 39:3 (where it is said of Joseph: the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand”).—And his herds spread in the land: literally, his stock of cattle, פָרַץ, breaks through in the land, like a flood breaking through an embankment (מַיִם בְּפֶרֶץ, 2 Sam. 5:20), or like a herd breaking out of a fold. Comp. Gen. 28:14; 30:30, 43; 2 Chron. 2:23; Isaiah 45:2—[So the versions of Junius and Tremellius and Piscator: And his cattle for multitude have burst forth through the land. Conant: “his substance is spread abroad in the earth,” which, he thinks, “is better than in the land, as it is the Adversary’s object to express, in the strongest terms, the extent of Job’s possessions.” On “Thou hast blessed,” etc., Wordsworth remarks: “Even Satan confesses that God’s benediction is the source of all good to man.”—E.]
Job 1:11. But put forth thy hand now, and touch all that he hath.—וְאוּלָם, nevertheless, verum enim vero, introducing with strong emphasis the direct opposite of Jehovah’s eulogy on Job (comp. Job 11:5; 12:7; 17:10; 33:1). [שְֽׁלַה־נָֽא, Methegh accompanying Sheva. Green, § 45, 4],—נגע with בְּ (as in Job 19:21), sometimes with אֶל (as in Job 2:5), to touch, to lay the hand on anything, with intent to injure or destroy. [“Touch, or as it may be translated, smite, as below in Job 1:19. But the former sense is more appropriate here, as indicating how easily all this worldly prosperity would vanish at the touch of the Almighty.” CONANT. “נָגַע frequently of the evil touch which blasts; of the scattering wind (Ezek. 17:10); of the consuming touch of God (Job 19:21; Isai. 53:4; Ps. 73:14); the fiery effect of the divine touch (and look) marvellously told Ps. 104:32.” DAV. “Satan wishes to make God the author of evil; but God does not inflict evil on Job; but allows Satan to put forth his hand (Job 1:12), and afflict him.” Didymus, quoted by Wordsworth].
Verily he will curse Thee to Thy face.—אִס־לֹא וגוﬡ, not, “will he not curse, etc.” (and thus = an non, as in Job 17:2; 22:20), but the formula of an oath, with the apodosis omitted,=“truly, verily” (LXX.: εἰ μήν). It is more suitable to Satan’s insolent, reckless character to represent him as swearing that God is mistaken, than as questioning and calling upon God to watch and see, whether he is not mistaken [as e.g. Renan’s version: et on verra s’il ne te renie pas en face.] בֵּרֵךְ, here again=valedicere, take leave of, as in Job 1:5, but strengthened here, so as to emphasize the shameless arrogance of the deed by the addition of עַל־פָּנֶיךָ, “to thy face,” literally “upon thy face,” as in Job 6:28; 21:31; Isai. 65:3; comp. אֶל־פָּנִים, Job 2:5; 13:15; בְּפָנִים, Job 16:8. [The refusal of Good and Lee to entertain any other meaning for בֵּרֵךְ than “to bless” leads them here, as also in Job 2:5, to forced and untenable constructions. Good’s rendering: “Will he then, indeed, bless thee to thy face?” is entirely against the usage of the particles, אִס־לֹא, which elsewhere are strongly affirmative, not negative, and, moreover, leaves the qualifying clause, “to thy face,” meaningless. Lee’s rendering is even more objectionable: “But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath: if not (i.e. if thou continue thy favors), then in thy presence will he bless thee.” A forced construction, and a feeble conclusion, entirely unworthy of the Satan of our book.—E.].
Job 1:12. Behold, all that he hath is in thy power: literally, is in thy hand; is delivered to thee. The divine permission appears here at the same time as a divine command; for such a permissive activity, on the part of God, as would admit of his remaining purely passive, is altogether unknown to the Old Testament (comp. Isai. 45:7). Rather do we find that whenever men are tempted, it is because they are left by God to be tried, because He forsakes them, or withdraws His hand from them (2 Chron. 32:31; Ps. 27:9, and often)—simple representations, parallel to that in the passage before us, and substantially equivalent to it (comp. Vilmar, Theol. Mor., 1871, I., p. 163). God, indeed, in decreeing that Job shall be tempted, has altogether other ends in view than those which are sought by the Adversary, who is commissioned to carry on the work of the temptation. While the latter desires, through his art as tempter, to compass the fall of Job, it is God’s will rather that he should endure the test, that thereby he may be not only lifted up by purification to the highest degree of virtue and piety, but also proved to be in truth a man of piety, who feared God, Satan and all other doubters to the contrary notwithstanding. That which is here put in operation is thus, on the part of God, a trial of Job, putting him to the proof; on the part of Satan, a veritable temptation to lead him astray. The motive from which the divine decree ordaining the trial proceeds is naught else than love, delivering and preserving the soul; that from which proceeds the action of the agent for the fulfilment of that decree is hate, the spirit which would murder body and soul, a diabolical satisfaction in causing a poor man’s body and soul to be destroyed in hell (Matt. 10:28; Luke 12:4 [where, however, God is meant, not the devil.—E.]). Therefore does God annex to the permission which He here grants Satan the warning prohibition: “only upon himself put not forth thy hand.” For He well knows the lust of murder and the thirst for destruction which possesses him who is a murderer and a liar from the beginning. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord.—וַיֵּצֵא, literally, “and Satan went out,” i.e. out of the hall where the celestial assembly was convened. Immediately upon receiving the Divine license, he left the place, to begin the work of temptation in which he longed to engage. [“He went forth at once, the ardor with which he entered on his work being thus set forth.” DILLM. “As Cain did (Gen. 4:16), and as Judas did from the presence of Christ (John 13:30).” WORDS.]
3. (b) Job’s actual trial in the execution of the decree on his possessions and family, Job 1:13–19.
[“In the opening verses the author gave us a glimpse of the calm sunshine of Job’s domestic life, its happy unity and religious simplicity. In the next few verses he took us elsewhere, and showed the first far-gatherings of the storm; and now it breaks in unheard-of fury, scattering ruin and scathing all that was beautiful in earth and man. The heavenly and the earthly combine, and there results a tumultuous mixture absolutely appalling in its workings. Heaven and earth unite to sow destruction around Job; all the destructive forces in nature, men’s evil passions and heaven’s lurking fire, are drawn out to overwhelm him. Man and heaven alternate in their eager fury for his ruin—first the Sabean horde, then the lightnings, then the “hasty and bitter” Chaldeans, and finally the tempest. Only one escapes each stroke, and yet one, for the man must know the outside of his ruin, and he must know it at once; each wave must come higher than the foregoing—the cattle, least numerous; the flocks, a deeper loss; the camels, more precious still; and, cruelest of all, a loss unlike all else—the children—and each wave comes up before the preceding has time to recede. All antiquity and human thought cannot produce three such scenes as these; the first so lovely in its peace and righteousness; the second so awful in its far sublimity, unveiling to our eyes the hidden powers that play with and for us; and now the third, so wild in its fury and frantic in its malignant outbursts—and all to be followed by one so dreadful in its calmness and iron composure, when a human spirit stands alone in its own conscious greatness, independent of earth, and defiant of hell.” DAV.] All that the poet in Job 1:2–4 has described as the property of his hero, he now represents as in one day taken away from him. This is done in four stages, or by four strokes, following each other in immediate succession [and immediately announced to him, whence the German proverbial expression Hiobsposten, “Job’s posts,” applied to tidings of calamity. Compare in English the proverbial expression: “Job’s comforters.”—E.] These four strokes are: (1) The loss of the oxen and the asses. (2) The loss of the sheep, representing the smaller cattle. (3) The loss of the camels. Each of these calamities was accompanied by the slaying of the servants in charge of the animals specified. (4) The loss of the children. In so far as the fourth of these losses was by far the most severe and painful, a gradation of woe appears in the series. [Ewald, followed by Dillmann and others, has remarked upon the peculiarity that the first and third of the calamities are ascribed to human, the second and fourth to celestial agencies.—E. “It is not accidental (says Hengstenberg) that there are just four catastrophes, divided into two pairs, and corresponding to the fourfold particularization of the righteousness of Job. In them may be seen a sort of irony of destiny touching his and all human righteousness.”]
Job 1:13. And there was a day [literally: Now it was the day, or: It came to pass on the day, viz.: when Satan, in pursuance of his fell purpose, visited on Job the first installment of woe, his children having assembled in the house of their eldest brother to begin their festivities. On that same day, the first and brightest of the festal round, the fatal stroke fell.—E.] when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house [in the house of their brother, the first-born], i.e., according to Job 1:4, were celebrating the birth-day of this first-born, on a day, therefore, which was one of especial joy to Job’s entire household. See above on Job 1:4, 5.
Job 1:14, 15. The first loss: that of the oxen and the she-asses, together with the servants in charge.
Job 1:14. Then came a messenger to Job, etc. Literally: And a messenger came, etc.—The וְ introduces the conclusion of the conditional sentence וּבָנָיו ונו֬ in Job 1:13 [i.e., when his sons, etc., then it was that a messenger came]. Comp. Job 1:19, and Ewald, § 341 d.—The oxen were ploughing, and the she-asses feeding beside them.—The participial construction describes the condition which was disturbed by the calamity that befell them (Del., comp. Ewald, § 168 c). [This remark includes the construction of the partic. with היה, which is not (with Fürst, and others) to be regarded as a simple periphrasis for the narrative tense, as is usual in Aramean; היה on the contrary has its own force, defining the time of the continuous condition expressed by the participle.—E.] The partic. stands in the fem. plur., חֹרְשׁוֹת, because בָּקָר is a collective noun, and, more particularly, because the females of the class, cows, are intended. Subsequently, however, and referring back to this חֹרְשׁוֹת, we find the masc. suffix יְדֵיהֶם in use as the more general or primary gender (Ewald, § 184 c. [Green, § 220, 1, b], and comp. Job 39:3, 4; 42:15). עַל־יְדֵיהֶם, literally: “on, or at, their hands.” The meaning is not “in their places,” as some Rabbis and Böttcher explain it, referring to Num. 2:17; Deut. 23:13 [nor “according to their custom,” more solito, Schult; nor “at some distance,” Wem.]; but, as the connection shows, “on both sides of them” (comp. Judg. 11:26), or simply “beside them” (=אֶצְלָם, comp. Num. 34:3).
Job 1:15. And the Sabeans fell upon them; literally: And Sabea fell, etc.—שְׁבָא, as the name of a people, is used in the feminine (Ewald, § 174, b); it is followed, however, by the masc. plur. הִכּוּ [see Green, § 197, d]. By שְׁבָא here is meant not the rich, commercial Sabeans of Southern Arabia, referred to in Job 6:19, but the related branch of the same people in northeastern Arabia, who lived the nomadic life of predatory Bedouins, ranging from the Persian Gulf to Idumea, neighbors and kindred of the tribe of Dedan, who also lived in North Arabia; Gen. 10:7; 25:3. Genesis still further makes mention of three races of the name, the Cushite, (Job 10:9), the Joktanite (10:28), and the Abrahamic, or Keturic (25:3), which shows in general the mixed character of this people. [Schlottmann, while agreeing with Zöck. as to the branch of the family here referred to, shows on the authority of Pliny and Strabo, that the Sabeans of Southern Arabia were robbers as well as traders.—E.]—And they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword.—The servants here were the young herdsmen in charge of the cattle [lit.: “the young men;” LXX., τοῦς πᾶιδας; Jerome, pueros; Luther, “the boys;” so in slave communities servants are called boys.—E.] With the edge; literally: according to the [mouth, i.e.,] sharpness of the sword (לְפִּי הֶרֶב), i.e., unsparingly. [According to Ges. and Furst לְ here denotes the instrument. “The objection to Gesenius’ view is obviated by the near relation between the ideas of agency and instrumentality; and any other explanation of his examples is unnatural and forced.” CON.—And only I alone escaped to tell thee.—[“Chrysostom (Hom. 2 et 3 de patient. Jobi) fancies that the מַלְאָךְ was Satan himself, who indulged himself in the gratification of bringing the ill tidings to Job.” DILLM.] The ה paragogic in וָאִמָּלְטָה does not mark here the cohortative use of the verb, but simply makes more vivid the verbal notion, in order to show the haste with which he escaped. [“I have saved myself with great difficulty.” DEL.] Comp. Gesenius, § 49, 2; Ewald, § 232, g. The clause לְהַגִּיד לָךְ is objective: in order that, in accordance with the Divine decree, I might tell thee.
Job 1:16. The second loss: that of the smaller cattle, with the servants in charge.—While this one was yet speaking, there came another, etc.—The same connection between the circumstantial participial clause and the principal clause, as in verse 13. (Ewald, § 341, d) זֶה־זֶה, “the one–the other,” and so again in Job 21:23, 25.—The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep, etc.—By “the fire of God” the author means the lightning rapidly repeating itself [see Ex. 9:23], which might be particularly destructive to the flocks of smaller cattle (Ps. 78.), and the agency of which in suddenly burning and devouring is certainly described in 1 Kings 18:38; 2 Kings 1:12) (comp. Luke 9:54). [The expression: “fire of God,” indicates the poetic character of the description here given; and the entire sentence: “the fire of God fell from heaven,” is manifestly designed to show that Satan moved heaven and earth to combine in inflicting disaster on Job, so as to leave him without hope in either quarter.—E.] It is less natural to assume a rain of fire and brimstone, like that of Sodom (Del.); neither does the language used suit the burning sulphurous south wind called the Samûm (Schlott.), as a comparison with Ps. 11:6 shows. [The latter theory moreover would result in making too little distinction between this calamity and the fourth.—E.]
Job 1:17. The third loss: that of the camels, with their keepers. The Chaldeansformed three bands; lit.: “Made three heads” (Luther: drei spitzen), i.e., three army-bands or divisions. For דָאשִׁים in this sense, see Judges 7:16; 9:34; 1 Sam. 11:11. As substantially parallel, comp. also Gen. 14:15, where the same primitive tactics and strategy are described as practiced by Chedorlaomer and his vassal-kings. “Without any authority, Ewald sees in this mention of the Chaldeans an indication of the composition of the book in the seventh century B. C., when the Chaldeans under Nabopolassar began to inherit the Assyrian power. Following Ewald, Renan observes that the Chaldeans first appear as such marauders about the time of Uzziah. But in Genesis we find mention of early Semitic Chaldeans among the mountain ranges lying to the north of Assyria and Mesopotamia (in Arphaxad, Gen. 10:22, or Ur of the Chaldees, Gen. 11:28, 31; comp. the Charduchian range of Xenophon; and later, of Nahorite Chaldeans in Mesopotamia, whose existence is traced back to patriarchal times (Gen. 22:22), and who were powerful enough at any time to make a raid into Idumea.” DEL. (Comp. also Dillmann, who, although an advocate of the later period to which the composition of the book is assigned, is careful not to try to make capital for his theory out of this passage).—And set upon the camels.—פָּשַׁט, literally: to strip, to pillage. [According to Gesenius the primary meaning is to spread out; hence of an invading army, in Nah. 3:16, of locusts. This sense best agrees with the prepositions with which it is construed: here עַל, and so Judges 9:33; elsewhere אֶל, 1 Sam. 27:8; בְּ, 2 Chron. 25:13.—E.] The technical expression for such marauding invasions, or raids. Comp. Judg. 9:33, 44; 1 Sam. 23:27; 30:14; Hos. 7:1.
Job 1:18, 19. The fourth loss: that of the sons and daughters.
Job 1:18. While this one was yet speaking, etc. Instead of עוֹד (Job 1:16, 17), we have here עַד, which appears in connection with the participle, in the sense of “while,” also in Nehem. 7:3.—The supposition of Schlott. [also of Hengst.], that “this slight change of expression is made to distinguish the two following verses from the preceding, because they relate the greatest loss,” is disproved by the circumstance that the change is too insignificant, being scarcely noticeable. The conjecture of Dillmann and some of the earlier commentators is more plausible, that instead of עַר, we should read עֹר, defectively written, which in fact is the reading of some MSS.
Job 1:19. Behold there came a great wind from beyond the wilderness;i.e. hither across over the desert. [“From the further side, gathering strength and violence as it approached from far. Is. 21:1; Jer. 4:11; Hos. 13:15.” DAV.] As the land of UZ in our narrative stands west of the great North-Arabian desert [see on Job 1:1], the wind spoken of here is to be taken as a storm from the east, or possibly from the north-east rather. It is, moreover, evidently a whirlwind that is intended, for the house is smitten on its four corners, and is thus made to fall, like the house described in Matt. 7:27. [“The violence of the winds of the Arabian desert is well known. When Pietro della Valle travelled through this desert in the year 1625, the wind tore to pieces the tents of his caravan.” HIRZEL.]—And smote the four corners,etc. [וַיִּגַּע, in the masc., although the subject, רוּחַ, is first construed as fem. (בָּאָה). The use of the masc. belongs probably to the poetic vividness of the description. The change would be the more readily made in this case, as רוּחַ is sometimes, though rarely, masc.; comp. Job 41:8 (A. V. 16).—E.]—And it fell upon the young people;i.e. the ten children of Job, along with whom no special mention is made here of the servants in attendance, who probably perished with them, for the reason that their loss, in comparison with the far more grievous loss of his children, would not be taken into account by Job.—הַנְּעָרִים, here, and Job 29:5 (so also Ruth 2:21), plur. of the epicene noun נַעַר, which in the Pentateuch also is used both for a young man and a young woman. [Conant thinks, “it is the less necessary to assume suck a usage here, as the attention of the messenger would naturally be directed to the fate of the sons in which all were involved.” The view of Jarchi, as explained by Bernard: “ ‘There was no occasion to mention the daughters,’ meaning thereby that the daughters were of little consequence,” would meet with little favor at the present day. Ewald, speaking of the effect of this calamity on Job, remarks, it would add to the stunning force of the blow, that all this happened during the first day of a joyous festival, and consequently before the children could have incurred much guilt, according to the father’s apprehension as expressed in Job 1:4, 5, so that the poet can furnish no sufficient occasion for their destruction in the greatness of their sin. This may be regarded as an additional and sufficient reason for assigning these calamities to the day when the entertainment took place in the house of the first-born, without having recourse to the theory that it was a birth-day feast. Wordsworth’s remark on the sweeping, all-embracing aspect of the destruction wrought is striking: “Satan had said, that God had ‘hedged in Job on all sides;’ but now Job is attacked on all sides; from the south by Sabeans; from the east by Chaldeans; from heaven by fire and whirlwind, or tornado, which assailed all the corners of the house of Job’s eldest son, in which his children were gathered together, and which fell upon them, and buried them in their hour of feasting.”—E.]
(y) Job’s Constancy and Patience. Vers.20–22.
Job 1:20. Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head: both well-known oriental gestures, expressive of violent grief, rending the mantle, the outer garment, מְעִיל [“an exterior tunic, fuller and longer than the common one, but without sleeves; worn by men of birth and rank, by kings and princes, by priests, etc.” GES.—Comp. Job 2:12; 29:14], and shaving the head, including the beard [“a sign of mourning among other nations, but not allowed to the Hebrews (Lev. 21:5; Deut. 14:1; comp. Ezek. 44:20), except to certain persons, e.g. the Nazarites. See Num. 6:9. This, as Professor S. Lee observes, is another evidence of Job’s independence of the Levitical law: see Job 1:5. The Hebrews in time of mourning sometimes plucked off the hair, as well as rent the mantle: see Ezra 9:3.” WORDS.] Job’s rising is mentioned simply as a preparatory motion, and as a sign of strong mental agitation, not as an independent gesture of grief. So also the clause which follows: “and fell down upon the ground,” is to be regarded not as an attitude of sorrow, but rather as preparatory to the worship of God in the immediate connection. This act of adoration (προσκύνησις) accordingly is presented in a twofold manner: first by the circumstantial preparatory clause, וַיִּפֹּל אַרְצָה, then by the exact terminus technicus for adoration, וַיִּשְׁתָּֽחוּ. (Comp. Hoelemann, Ueber die biblische Gestalt der Anbetung, in his Bibelstudien, Part I., 1859.) [“Job’s recognition of the quarter whence his sorrows came, and his feeling of God’s right to send them, and their ultimate (after some rockings) spiritual effect upon him, are finely exhibited in this verb. Human nature and grief has its rights first—the heart must utter itself in words or actions; but the paroxysm over, a deeper calm succeeds—a closer feeling of heaven, as after the thunder and tempestuous obscuration, the heavens are deeper and more transparent.” DAV.]
Job 1:21. The devout expression of the sufferer’s lament and resignation is put in poetic form, in parallel members, clearly proving that the author of the prologue is the same with the author of the poem. Comp. Introd. § 8.—Naked came I out of my mother’s womb.—יָצָתִי, defectively written, as in Job 32:18; Num. 11:11.—And naked shall I return thither.—The difficult word, שָׁמָּה, “thither” meaning “into the womb” (not as Böttcher explains, “into the earth,” as though Job, in speaking, pointed with his finger to the ground), may be explained in two ways: either with Hahn and Hupfeld, “thither, whence I came, in coming out of my mother’s womb, to wit, out of the state of nonentity” [So DAV.: “Mother’s womb is considered synonymous with non-existence, and death is a return thither again into such a state”]; comp. Job 30:23; Ps. 9:18 (17 E. V.); or, more probably, by assuming a slight poetic ambiguity, by virtue of which “womb” in the second instance represents its counterpart, the bosom of mother earth: comp. Ps. 139:13, 15; Sir. 40:1 [“A heavy yoke is upon the sons of Adam from the day that they go out of their mother’s womb till the day that they return to the mother of all things.” Cyprian, quoting our passage, has it thus: “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I go under the earth.” “Dans le second membre,” says Renan, “l’auteur passe à l’idée du sein de la terre, mére de tous les hommes.”—E.] The thought expressed here and elsewhere, as in Eccles. 5:14 (15 E. V. see Comment. on the passage), that man departs hence as naked and helpless as he came here, is moreover only a deduction from that fundamental truth of antiquity announced in Gen. 3:19 (Eccles. 12:7). But to go further, and, taking בֶּטֶך אִמִי in the sense of earth’s bosom, the interior of the earth, to find here the doctrine of the pre-existence of souls (J. D. Michaelis, Knapp, etc.), this is to do gross violence to the plain phraseology of the passage, and is, at the same time, to foist surreptitiously on our book a dogma of later times, nowhere to be met with in the Old Testament.—Blessed be the name of Jehovahמְבֹרָך, “blessed, praised,” in a sense exactly opposite to that of Job 1:11, but chosen by the poet with express reference to the use there made by Satan of the word. Instead of the curse he wished for, the Tempter is compelled to hear from the sorely tried man God praised in benedictions. Job here gives evidence of being a believer in Jehovah, a confessor of the only true and eternal God, as his threefold use of the name יְהוָֹה proves. In his later discourses, this name retires before the name of God in general use in the patriarchal age, and occurs again only once (Job 12:9). Comp. Introd. § 5. [“Faith, expressing itself in the most vivid language, seizes on the most elevated, joyous, expressive name. As in regard to the matter, so also in regard to the name, Job is here raised above himself.” Hengst.]
Job 1:22. In all this Job sinned not.—בְּכָל־זֹאת־, not “in all that which Job said and did” (Muntinghe, Rosenm., etc.), which would be a very flat statement; but in all that befell him, in all these dispensations. The LXX. correctly: ἐν τούτοις πᾶσι το͂ις συμβεβηκόσιν αὐτῷ. The expression reaches back beyond Job 1:20, 21, although without excluding that which is here related as said and done by Job. And showed no folly toward God: lit. and gave forth no folly toward God;i.e. uttered against Him nothing foolish, nothing senseless (תִּפְלָה, the same as the adj. הָּפֵל, meaning stale, insipid, Job 6:6; comp. Job 24:12; Jer. 25:18). Comp. Jerome: neque stultum quid contra Deum locutus est: and among the moderns more especially Rosenm., Rödiger (in Ges. Thesaurus, p. 15, 16), Oehl., Vaih. [Noy. Bar. app’y, Con.]; Dillm. also, who explains: “offered to God nothing unsavory, i.e., nothing to displease him.” [“It is curious to observe that in many languages, modern as well as ancient, wisdom is represented under the character of sapidity, or a palatable stimulus, and folly under that of insipidity, or anything devoid of stimulus.… So while the Hebrew term here employed (תפל) means equally froth, insipidity, folly, or obtuseness of intellect, its opposite, which is טעם, means, in like manner, taste, poignancy, discernment, superiority of intellect; terms which the Arabs yet retain, and in both senses.” GOOD. For further illustration, G. refers to the proverbial “Attic salt” of the Greeks, for the flavor of wit and wisdom.—To this should be added, that in Scripture these terms have an ethical, as well as an intellectual significance, so that as “wisdom” is one of the most important equivalents of piety, “folly” stands in the same relation to impiety. And so here. Job, in his trial, uttered nothing which betrayed a heart unsalted by wisdom and grace, no spiritual absurdity which betokened a spirit at variance with the Supreme Wisdom.—E.] Altogether too inexact and free are the renderings, on the one hand, of Umbreit: “and permitted himself nothing foolish against God;” on the other hand of Ewald and Hahn: “and gave God no offence.” Contrary to usage is Olshausen’s rendering of תפלה as equivalent to “abuse, reviling” (“he gave God no abuse,” i.e., reviled him not: so the Pesh.) [Renan: “he uttered no blasphemy against God”]. The connection, however, forbids the explanation of Hirz., Stick., Schlott., Del. [Merx, Dav., Röd., Elz.]: “he did not charge God with folly, attributed to him no foolishness.” [So substantially E. V.: “he did not charge God foolishly.”] For at first Job shows himself far removed from that extreme violence of feeling which later in the history leads him once and again to the very verge of blasphemy, to represent God, for instance, as his cruel tormentor and persecutor. It would be very strange and quite premature for the poet to introduce here an allusion to those later aberrations.
5. (b) The severer trial: the loss of health, (a). The preparatory scene in heaven, Job 2:1–6. Job 2:1. Now it came to pass on a day.—Not, of course, on the same day as that mentioned Job 1:13, but after a certain interval, which is not more particularly defined. The art. here, הַיּוֹם, as in Job 1:6 q.v. It will be observed that here there is a variation from the statement in Job 1:6 in the use of לְהִתְיַצֵב with Satan, as well as with “the sons of God;” indicating, as Del. and Dillm. have shown, that he, as well as they, appeared at this time in the heavenly assembly with a definite object. What that object was is made to appear immediately in the succeeding dialogue between Jehovah and Satan.—E.]
Job 2:2. From whence comest thou?—Here אֵי מִזֶּה, instead of the earlier מֵאַיִ ן, Job 1:7; the only variation, and a slight one, of the language in that verse, which is otherwise repeated here word for word. The same is true of the following verse, at least of the first and longer part of it, which is an exact repetition of Job 1:8 with one slight variation, the substitution of אֶל for עַל before עַבְדִּי.
Job 2:3. And still he holdeth fast to his piety, i.e., notwithstanding the heavy calamities which have visited him, he still maintains a blameless life. תֻּמָּה, the quality of the תָּם, Job 1:1. Comp. Job 27:5; 31:6; Prov. 11:3 [the only passage where the word occurs outside of our book.—E.]—Although thou didst move me against him to destroy him without cause.—Lit: “And so thou didst move me against him,” etc.; the imperf. consec. here not in the inferential sense, “so that thou,” etc. (Hirz., Stick., Hahn, Dillm. [Hengst.]), but adversative rather: “and yet thou didst move me,” etc. (Rosm., Ew., Umbr., Vaih., Heilig. [Noy., Rod., Wem., Bev., Con., Elz.]). With this construction the חִנָּם, “without cause, un-deservedly,” is by no means at variance; for this expression only enhances the reproachfulness of Jehovah’s address.—With הֵסִית בְּ, to excite, stir up against any one, comp. 1 Sam. 26:19; 2 Sam. 24:1 (but differently in Josh. 15:18; 1 Chron. 21:1). [It “does not signify, as Umbreit thinks, to lead astray, in which case it were almost a blasphemous anthropomorphism; it signifies instigare, and indeed generally to evil, as e.g., 1 Chron. 21:1; but not always, e.g., Josh. 15:18; here it is certainly in a strongly anthropopathical sense of the impulse given by Satan to Jehovah to prove Job in so hurtful a manner.” DEL.]—בִּלֵּעַ, to destroy, to ruin [literally, to swallow up]; see Job 8:18; 10:8; 37:20); applied here to the crushing destruction of Job’s outward prosperity. Not without reason does Jehovah make choice of these strong expressions, בלע here, הסית just before; for “Satan’s aim went beyond the limited power which was given him over Job.” DEL. Comp. our remarks above on Job 1:12. [The lofty Divine irony of Jehovah’s language should not be overlooked, contrasting as it does so strongly with Satan’s baffled malignity and arrogant, scoffing unbelief. Schultens justly remarks: Ut in verbis Satanæ jactantia, ita in Dei responso irrisio se exerit.—E.]
Job 2:4. Skin for skin.—A proverbial expression, the independent meaning of which is obscure, and can be ascertained only from the connection. Now the following sentence, “all that a man hath will he give for his life,” is evidently parallel in sense, as appears from the repetition of בְּעַד, “about,” here “for, instead of” (as in Is. 32:14; comp. the same use of תַּחַת in Ex. 21:23–25, and so frequently). It is therefore simply the application of the proverb to Job’s case. The meaning of the phrase therefore, it would seem, must be this: A man will give like for like; of two things having about equal value he will willingly let the one go, that he may save the other; and this in fact, Satan suggests, Job had done; he had willingly given up all that was his, in order to save his own life and his bodily health. Job’s property therefore is here represented as a skin, with which his person was covered, an integument enveloping him for protection and comfort (comp. Job 18:13; 19:26, where עוֹר designates the entire body, the whole person corporeally considered). His physical life is represented as another such a skin. Of these two skins or integuments, the one of which lies nearer to him than the other, and is therefore dearer to him and more indispensable, he has surrendered the one, to wit, the outer, remoter, least necessary, in order to save and to retain the other. [“As is said in the proverb: Like for like; so it is with man: all for life.” HIRZ. “A proverbial saying, to the effect: A man freely parts with an external good, if he may thereby keep possession of another. So Job can well bear the loss of children and property, since the dearest earthly good, life and health, are left him.” VAIH. So Ges., Dillm., Hengst., Con., Dav., etc.] This interpretation is beyond question the one best suited to the context, and is to be preferred to the others which have been proposed, viz.: a. That of the Targ., of several Rabbis, Schlott., and Del.—“A man will give a part of the skin, or a member, in order to preserve another part of the skin, or member; much more will a man give up all that he has to keep his life.” This explanation is at fault in taking עוֹר, which always means the whole skin or hide, for a member or a part of the skin.—b. That of Ephraem, Rosenm., Hupf., in which עוֹר is used in respect of the lost children and animals to designate their life, their existence. [According to this view the full expression would be: skin (of another) for skin (of oneself), as “life for life” in Ex. 21:23; skin being used metaphorically for the body, or the life. The thought accordingly is: The bodies or the lives of others one will part with for his own.—The objection to this view is that the two equivalents, or the two things compared here, are not so much what is another’s, and what is one’s own, but rather one’s own property and one’s own life, or person.—Good’s explanation: “ ‘Skin for skin’ is, in plain English, ‘property for person,’ or the ‘skin forming property for the skin forming person,’ ” is correct as to the application, but as an explanation of the proverb it is faulty in that it injects too much of the special application into the body of the proverb.—E.] c. The interpretation of Olshausen, who refers to ver 5, and explains “skin for skin” to mean “as thou treatest him, so he will treat thee; so long as thou leavest his (skin, i.e.,) person untouched, so long will he not assail (thy skin, i.e.,) thee in person.” This, however, is at variance alike with the connection and with decorum. [“Though it is the devil who speaks, this were nevertheless too unbecomingly expressed.” DEL. In addition to the above explanations, the following deserve mention: d. That of Parkhurst Schult., Wem., who render the clause: Skin after skin, or skin upon skin; i.e., to save his life a man would willingly be flayed over and over. This is unnatural in itself, a doubtful rendering of the preposition, and at variance with the analogous use of the same preposition in the following clause. Any explanation which requires a different use of the preposition in both clauses is certainly to be rejected. e. The view of Umbreit, who while agreeing with the explanation given above of the clause: skin for skin, explains differently its relation to the following clause. The proverb he regards as a mercantile one, meaning, one thing for another, everything is exchangeable in the market, any external good may be bartered for another; but life is an internal good of such value that nothing will buy it, and a man will sacrifice everything for it. His translation accordingly is: “Skin for skin; but all that a man hath he gives for his life.” This, however, is much less simple and natural than to regard the וְ as connective, and the second clause as the application of the first. Especially decisive against it is the adversative אוּלָם at the beginning of Job 2:5, which on Umbreit’s theory would be deprived of all force. f. Merx in his version substitutes for the oriental proverb the German: Das Hemd sitzt näher als der Rock (The shirt is nearer than the coat), and explains: “One skin envelopes another skin; the first (goods and children) has been taken away from Job, he must yet be stripped of the second (health).” He maintains that בְּעַד never signifies “for, instead;” but he is condemned out of his own mouth, for in the very next clause he translates בְּעַד נַפְשׁוֹ “for his life!” While it may be granted that בְּעַד is not exactly synonymous with תַּחַת, either may be appropriately rendered by “for,” the former corresponding rather to the Greek περί, or ὑπὲρ, the latter to ἀντι. “Although it does not stand for the ב of price, it nevertheless can, like תהת in Ex. 21:23–25, be used with the verb נתן in the sense of “instead,” especially when the accessory notion ‘for the protection of’ is retained in connection with it.” DILLM.
The use of skin as the representative of value in the proverb is explained by the extent to which it was used as an article of utility and traffic. It was useful in itself and as a medium of exchange. Hence “skin for skin” would naturally mean “value for value.”—E.]
Job 2:5. But put forth now Thy hand, and touch his bone and his flesh.—אוּלָם, verum enim vero, but verily, as in Job 1:11. [The connection of the two verses is as follows: Value for value; a man’s life is worth everything, and all that he has he will give up to save his life. But—touch that, put his life in peril, so that nothing that he has, or can do will save it, and assuredly he will curse thee. A simple statement of the connection is all that is necessary to refute some of the erroneous interpretations of the passage.—E.] נָגַע, to touch (in Job 1:11 construed with בְּ) is here followed by אֵל. It is going too far, however, to assume, with Delitzsch, that this “expresses increased malignity: stretch forth Thy hand but once to his very bones,” etc. [Hengst. agrees with Hupfeld that here “the bone” is specially mentioned as in Pss. 6:3 (2); 38:4 (3): 51:10 (8) as the basis of the body and of its condition, as the inmost seat and source of vital power and sensibility.” Note the peculiar metaphorical use of עֶצֶם, in Hebrew for self, self-same.—Add also that the collocation of bone and flesh in Hebrew is in almost every instance expressive of a man’s very self, his essential personality. Comp. Gen. 2:23; Judg. 9:2; Job 10:11; Prov. 14:30. Satan’s words here accordingly mean more than: touch his body; they mean: touch him; strike him in the vital parts of his being.
Verily, he will curse Thee to Thy face.—As in Job 1:11. Satan, it will be noted, is more truly Satanic in this scene than in the former. As Dav. finely observes: “In his former aspersion of Job he had only hinted that Job’s religion was not very genuine; it was profitable, and therefore carefully attended to. Here he goes a great way deeper, and maligns human nature in its very humanity. Man is not only irreligious (except for profit), but he is inhuman; what is usually regarded as possessions of the most irreligious men, love of kind and kindred, the deeper affections of family on which so much fine sentiment has been expended—they are matters of profit too. Man cares little for friend or family, only he be safe himself: put forth Thy hand and touch his own bone and flesh, and his viperish nature will rise like the trodden serpent, and disown Thee to Thy face.” The essence of sin in its ordinary human manifestation is to be unable to live from any higher motive than self; its essence in the life of Satan is to be unable to conceive of any higher motive than self. The spirit of evil in man often makes virtue tributary to self; the spirit of evil in Satan takes the very constancy of virtue as proof only of more intense selfishness. The devil’s logic in the case of Job: the more steadfast Job seems to be, the more inhuman must he be.—E.]
Job 2:6. Behold he is in thy hand, only spare his life.—Comp. Job 1:12. נֶפֶשׁ is to be distinguished from חַיִּים; it denotes not the life-function, as such, which belongs to man as a spiritual and corporeal being, but its seat and medium, the soul (ψυχή, anima). But as above in Job 2:4, so here, it must be rendered “life” [the term “soul” with us not being the exact equivalent of the above Hebrew, Greek, and Latin terms.—E.] Comp. the like use of ψυχή in Acts 20:10, and elsewhere often in the New Testament.—שְׁמֹר, lit.: “beware of, abstain from;” i.e., take care that in imperiling his life by the infliction of painful disease, thou dost not deprive him of it.
6. (β) The fulfillment of the decree in Job’s terrible disease: Job 2:7, 8.
Job 2:7. Then Satan went out … (comp. Job 1:12) … and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown;i.e., over his whole body.—Comp. the description of the same frightful disease given in almost the very same words in Deut. 28:35.—שְׁחִין [singular collective], used in Lev. 13:18 sq., of the boils of a leper, and elsewhere of the carbuncles of the plague, refers here, as its use with the strengthening attributive רַע shows, to the worst form of leprosy, the Lepra Arabica, or Elephantiasis, called also lepra nodosa, or tuberculosa, on account of the frightful swollen pustules, or boils, which make the limbs of the sufferer, and especially the lower extremities, look like the lumpy, apparently jointless limbs of the elephant [also perhaps “from its rendering the skin, like that of the elephant’s, scabrous and dark-colored, and furrowed all over with tubercles.” GOOD]. By the Arabians it is named gudhâm, the mutilating disease, because in its extreme stages entire members gradually fall away, such as fingers, teeth, hands, etc. Once in the Old Testament it is described as שְׁחִין מִצְרַיִם, “the Egyptian ulcer” (Deut. 28:27). It is not limited, however, to Arabia and Egypt, but prevails also in the East Indies, inclusive of the Sunda Islands, and likewise in the West Indies, and even in the countries of Northern Europe, as in Norway, where it rages at times with fearful violence, often seizing on entire villages. It is not only contagious (according to the testimony of the ancients, e.g., of Aretäus, the Cappadocian, it might be communicated by the mere breathing of the person diseased), but in many cases it also transmits itself from parents to children. [Dillman remarks that according to the most recent observations it does not seem to be contagious. So also the article on Medicine in Smith’s Bible Dict. says: “It is hereditary and may be inoculated, but does not propagate itself by the closest contact.”—E.] Finally, it is, as a rule, incurable; or at all events one of the most tedious diseases, protracting itself through twenty years or more. The identity of this disease with Job’s affliction was maintained long ago by Origen (c. Cels. 6:5), and is held by all modern expositors. This view is supported by the symptoms of the disease as they are further given in our book: the insufferable itching of the skin (Job 2:8); the skin cracking, and covered with boils now hard and crustated, and now festering (Job 7:5); the stinking breath (Job 19:17); the blackened and chapped appearance of the body caused by inward heat in the bones (Job 30:30); the danger of the limbs falling away (Job 30:17, 30); the extreme emaciation of the body (Job 19:20; 30:18); the anguished frame, made restless by nightly dreams, gaspings and tortures (Job 7:4, 13–15; 30:17), etc. [“It first appears in general, but not always, about the face, as an indurated nodule (hence it is improperly called tubercular), which gradually enlarges, inflames, and ulcerates. Sometimes it commences in the neck or arms. The ulcers will heal spontaneously, but only after a long period, and after destroying a great deal of the neighboring parts. If a joint be attacked, the ulceration will go on till its destruction is complete, the joints of finger, toe, etc., dropping off one by one. Frightful dreams and fetid breath are symptoms mentioned by some pathologists. More nodules will develop themselves; and if the face be the chief seat of the disease, it assumes a leonine aspect (hence called also Leontiasis), loathsome and hideous; the skin becomes thick, rugose, and livid; the eyes are fierce and staring, and the hair gene rally falls off from all the parts affected. When the throat is attacked the voice shares the affection, and sinks to a hoarse, husky whisper.”—Art. Medicine in Smith’s Bib. Dict. See also art. Leper]. Comp. below on Job 7:14; also the more particular description of the disease by Aretäus the Cappadocian (translated by Mann, 1858, p. 221; comp. also Del., Vol. I., p. 70, n. Clark’s For. The. Lib.); J. D. Michaelis, Einleitung ins A. T., I. 57 sq.; Winer, Real- Wörterbuch, I. 115 sq. (3d Ed.); Friedrich, Z. Bibel, 1848, I. 193 sq.; Hecker, Elephantiasis, oder Lepra Arabica, Lahr, 1838; Heer, De elephantiasi Græcorum et Arabum; Danielson and Boeck, Traité de la Spédalskhed, ou Elephantiasis des Grecs, a work published at the expense of the Government of Norway, Paris, 1848; Virchow, Die krankhaften Geschwülste, Vol. II. 1, Berlin, 1863 (which treats with especial minuteness of the distinction frequently overlooked between the Eleph. Græcorum and the Eleph. Arabum); also the narratives of travelers, e.g., Bruce, and recently of Bickmore (an American traveler in the East Indies), who, after giving a harrowing description of a village in northern Sumatra filled with sufferers from elephantiasis, declares with a shudder that one who has never seen such cases of leprosy can form no conception of the distortions which the human body can assume, and still live.
Job 2:8. And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal.—The modern Orientals, when suffering from the same disease, make use of instruments prepared for scraping, made out of ivory or other material (comp. Cleric on the passage). [“Scraping with a potsherd will not only relieve the intolerable itching of the skin, but also remove the matter.” DEL.] And he sat down among the ashes: lit.: “and he was sitting (at the time) in the midst of the ashes;” or “while he sat in the midst of the ashes.” [So most of the recent commentators. The participial construction וְהוּא ישֵׁב describing the condition of the subject at the time of the affirmation in the principal verb. Comp. Gen. 19:1; Judg. 13:9; and see Ewald, Gr. § 168, 2 and § 341, a. Schlott. finds in this clause evidence, that but a short time intervened between the former trial and the present. While he was yet sitting in ashes, mourning the loss of his children, he was smitten in his own person.—E.] Sitting in the ashes is certainly the attitude of a mourner (comp. Job 42:6; Jerem. 6:26; Jon. 3:6); but in this case, the attitude is occasioned not only by the loss of his children, but more especially by the new calamity which has befallen the sufferer. The LXX. enlarges upon the description in accordance with the Levitical law touching leprosy, as well as such passages as Ps. 113:7: Καὶ εκάθητο ἐπὶ τῆς κοπρίας εξω τῆς πόλεως. There is nothing in the Heb. text here to indicate the segregation of Job in his leprosy. Still it cannot be doubted, especially in view of Job 2:12 (see notes), that even as a non-Israelite, as an inhabitant of Haurân e.g., he was required to submit to such separation Comp. the information given by Wetstein in Del. (2:152), concerning the dung-heaps, the mezbele before the villages of Haurân, and the occupation of the same by lepers. [“The dung is brought in a dry state in baskets to the place before the village, and is generally burnt once every month.… The ashes remain.… If a village has been inhabited for a century, the mezbele reaches a height which far surpasses it. The winter rains make the ash-heaps into a compact mass, and gradually change the mezbele into a firm mound of earth.… The mezbele serves the inhabitants of the district as a watch-tower, and on close, oppressive evenings as a place of assembly, because there is a current of air on the height. There the children play about the whole day long; there the forsaken one lies, who, having been seized by some horrible malady, is not, allowed to enter the dwellings of men, by day asking alms of the passers-by, and at night hiding himself among the ashes, which the sun has warmed. There the dogs of the village lie, perhaps gnawing at a decaying car-case that is frequently thrown there. WETZST.
7. (γ) Job’s Steadfastness in Piety. Vers.9, 10.
Job 2:9. Then said his wife unto him.—[The Chald. here gives the name of Job’s wife as Dinah, a trace of the old tradition that Job was contemporary with Jacob. The Sept. and Copt, contain a considerable addition to the text in the form of a lengthened and impassioned discourse by Job’s wife, detailing his sorrows and her own.—E.] In place of Satan, who, from Job 2:6 on, disappears from the book’s history, Job’s own wife now appears against him to tempt him, to be, as it were, an adjutrix diaboli (Augustine). Dost thou still hold fast to thine integrity?—עדְֹךָ וגו׳, a question implying astonishment, although without a particle of interrogation (Ew. § 324, a). Compare the question which Anna, the wife of Tobias, that apocryphal copy of Job’s wife, addresses to her blinded husband: ποῦ εἰσὶν αἱ ἐλεημοσύναι σου καὶ αἱ δικαιοσύναι σου, ἰδοὺ γνωστὰ πάντα μετὰ σοῦ [“i.e. as Sengelmann and Fritzsche correctly explain, one sees from thy misfortunes that thy virtue is not of much avail to thee.” DEL.]—Renounce God and die!—ברך אלתים evidently in the bad sense of Job 1:11; 2:5; and thus equivalent, to: “let God go, renounce thy allegiance to Him, give up at last praising and trusting Him, since verily nothing more remains for thee but to die!” Hahn takes ברך here sensu bono: “Praise God all the time, thou shall presently see what thy reward is, even death!” [So Ges. Lex.: “Bless and praise God as thou wilt, yet thou must now die; thy piety towards God is in vain.” Carey, Con.: “The import of this taunting reproach I take to be: Bless God (if you will), and die! for that is all it will profit you.”] But to this stands opposed the sharp rejoinder which Job makes in Job 2:10 to his wife, from which it may be clearly inferred, that on the present occasion she was to him, if not altogether a “Proserpina et Furia infernalis” (Calv.), still, in some measure, a μάστιξ τοῦ διαβόλου (Chrysost.), to scourge him severely, an “instrument of the Tempter” (Ebr.). [Another argument against taking ברך in the sense of “blessing” is brought forward by Hengst., to wit, that the words bear an unmistakable relation to the saying of Satan, twice repeated: Verily he will renounce Thee to Thy face. The wife is Satan’s instrument in the endeavor to secure the fulfilment of that prediction. It may be still farther suggested, that the spirit which manifestly prompted the first words of the wife seems more in harmony with the rendering “renounce.” She begins by expressing her astonishment, an astonishment evidently accompanied by deep indignation, that after such heavy blows Job should still hold fast to his integrity. Nothing could be more natural than to find her in the same breath vehemently urging Job to relinquish his integrity by “bidding farewell” to God.—E.]
Job 2:10. Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh.—Folly here in the well-known Old Testament sense of godlessness, impiousness (Ps. 14:1), or in the sense of that saying of Luther’s: “All those who are without the Holy Ghost, however wise they may be esteemed by the world in temporal affairs, power or business, before God they are fools or blind men.” [“The translation ‘as one of the foolish women’ does not correspond to the Hebrew; נָבָל is one who thinks madly and acts impiously.” DEL. “נבלה means not simply a woman without understanding, but one who is a fool, who refuses to know more of God, who is an atheist, or a heathen.” DILLM.] The reproof is thus a severe one; at the same time, the אַחַת “one, any one,” has that in it which somewhat softens its severity: comp. 2 Sam. 13:13, [“Job does not say to his wife: Thou art a foolish woman; but: Thou speakest as if thou didst belong to that class; thou art become unlike thyself.” HENGST.] Shall we receive the good from God, and shall we not also receive the evil?—The question consists of two members: the גַם, standing at the beginning (instead of which we might have expected the more exact הֲגַם), “belongs logically to the second part, towards which the voice should hurry in reading the first part, which contains the premise of the other: this is frequently the case after interrogative particles, e.g., Num. 16:22; Isa. 5:46.” DEL. For this anticipation of the גַם, which has its logical connection with a later clause, comp. below Job 15:10Hos. 6:11; Zech. 9:11; also the analogous syntactical construction of רַק ,אַךְ ,אַף. [Hence the rendering of גַם by “What?” (E. V ) is inaccurate. “The first division of the verse is translated by Ges., Ew. (Hupf., Dillm., Ren ), and some others affirmatively, and the second division interrogatively. Thes. I, p 294, bonum accepimus a Deo, nonne etiam malum suscipiamus? … But the Heb. has the same form in both divisions; and the interrogative tone in both is a far more spirited expression of the thought.” CON.] The word קִבֵּל, “to receive” is found elsewhere in prose only in the post-exilic literature, and in Aramaic. Its appearance here, however, should not greatly surprise us, as we meet with it in proverbial poetry. Prov. 19:20. [It is worthy of note as a fine exhibition of the sympathetic genius of the author, that whereas as in Job 1:21 he uses the name Jehovah, here he uses the name Elohim. There the religious consciousness of Job, deeply stirred by his losses, but realizing nevertheless the full blessedness of uninterrupted communion with God, and pouring itself forth in that sublime soliloquy which is for all ages the doxology of the chastised believer, seizes on that name which to the Old Testament saint most fully expressed in his eternal perfections and glory on the one side, and in his personal relations to man on the other. Here, the same consciousness, deep, genuine, unfaltering as ever, but striving on the one hand to maintain itself against the depressing influence of physical ill, on the other hand to repel the daring suggestion of atheistical folly, consecrated as the suggestion was through Satanic skill by all the associations which love had sealed upon the lips that spoke it, seizes on that name of the Supreme Being which most fully expresses his power over the forces of nature, and which most effectually silences the sneer of the godless heart. There Job speaks rather as the chastised child, in the attitude of benediction, blessing the name of Jehovah; here he speaks rather as the chastised creature, in the attitude of resignation, vindicating the ways of Elohim.—E.]—In all this did not Job sin with his lips.—Compare the similar judgment rendered by the poet at the conclusion of the first trial, Job 1:22. That Job has thus far escaped all sin of the lips (comp. Job 27:4; Pss. 34:14 (13); 59:8 (7); 140:4 (3); Prov. 24:2, etc.), is here emphasized indeed only by way of contrast with the violent expressions which soon follow, which he was provoked to utter by the three friends, and in which he assuredly did sin. The intimation that he had already sinned in his thoughts (Targ., Diedrich), is scarcely conveyed by the בִּשְׂפָתָיו, however true in itself the remark of Delitzsch: “The temptation to murmur was now already at work within him, but he was its master, so that no murmur escaped him.”
8. The visit of the friends, and their mute sympathy, as an immediate preparation for the action of the poem, Job 2:11–13.
Job 2:11. Then Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him.—[The question whether the article should be used with “friends” cannot be determined with absolute certainty, the form of expression in the Hebrew being ambiguous, and the circumstances not being fully known. By some (Dav., Con., Ren., Elz.) it is omitted, although by most it is recognized; and this on the whole seems best. Although there is nothing to justify the Sept. in describing these friends as kings, there is good reason for regarding them as persons of universal consideration by virtue of their station, their age, and their wisdom. Comp. Job 12:3; 13:2; 15:17 sq.; 18:3; and Elihu’s remarks in Job 32 See also below on Eliphaz. And the concerted demonstration which they here make of their sympathy with Job would show that they were his friends in a peculiar sense. For these reasons the rendering “the three friends of Job” is to be preferred.—E.] הַבָּאָה, as accentuated, is not the partic, fem., but the perf. with the art which stands in place of the rel. pron., as in Gen. 18:21; 46:27. [Ewald, however, justly criticizes the Masora in these and other passages on the ground that the partic. can just as well be assumed in them, and is besides the more obvious construction. See Gr., p. 802, n. 1.—E.] That which is here related is to be understood as taking place not at the very beginning of Job’s sickness, but some months later (comp. Job 7:3), when the disease had made considerable progress, producing loathsome disfigurement of his person (comp. Job 2:12; Job 7:4 seq.; Job 19 Job 30.)—And they came each from his own place.—These places where they lived, which are mentioned in the sequel only in the most general way as countries, or regions of country, are not to be regarded as situated in each other’s immediate vicinity. The place where they came to, the object of וַיָּבֹאוּ, is to be thought of as some other place than that where Job lived. From this, their appointed rendezvous, they then proceeded to Job’s abode, to testify to him their sympathy (this being the meaning of לָנוּד, comp. Job 42:11, also נִיד, sympathy, Job 16:5), and to comfort him.—Eliphaz the Temanite, etc.—Since Eliphaz (אֱלִיפַז) appears also in Gen. 36:4, 10, 12, as an old Idumean name of a person, there can be no doubt that his country, Teman (תֵּימָן), a name which also occurs in Gen. 36:11, 15, in close connection with that of Eliphaz, is to be identified with the Idumean region of that name, whose inhabitants, not only according to our poem, but also according to the testimony of other Scripture writers, such as Jeremiah (Job 49:7) and Baruch (Job 3:22 seq.), were particularly celebrated for their wisdom comp. also Obad. 8:9; also the בְּנֵי בְיָן, i.e., sons of knowledge, of wisdom, in (Macc. 5:4). We are scarcely to understand by it the Têmâ of East Hauran (which indeed may possibly be a colony of the Edomite Theman). As for the countries of the two other friends, Shuah (שׁוּחַ), the home of Bildad, is to be sought for somewhere in the eastern part of North Arabia, among the settlements of the Keturäites, one of whom is called Shuah, Gen. 25:2. The application of the name to Schakka, beyond Hauran, the Σακκαία of Ptolem., Job 5:15, is doubtful on account of the difference in sound of the names. [According to Carey it is identical with the Saiace of Pliny (6:32), now called Sekiale, or El Saiak about midway between the Elamitic Gulf and the mouth of the Euphrates]. Naamah, finally, must be one of the many Syrian regions of that name; it can hardly be the city of that name in the Shefelah, mentioned Josh. 15:41 When out of a נַעֲמָתִי the LXX. makes out Zophar a Μιναῖος (or Μανναῖος, so Aristæus, in Euseb. Præp. Ev. 9:25), it probably follows a tradition which pointed to Maon (now Mâân), lying East of Petra, as his home.—Again, as regards the etymology of the names of the three friends, it may be conjectured that אֱלִיפַז means the man to whom “God is his joy;” בִּלְדַּד, “the son of strife” (לרד, in Arab. to strive, to wrangle); צוֹפַד, perhaps “the twitterer” (i.e., צִפּוֹר, from צפר, to pipe, to twitter). So Gesenius—Dietrich in their smaller dictionary; while Delitzsch, e.g., adopts entirely different definitions: thus אֱלִיפַז = cui Deus aurum est, comp. Job 22:25, also the name Phasael, formed by transposition; so also Michaelis, Suppl. p. 37. Fürst: “El is dispenser of riches;” Ges. in Lex.: “God his strength”]: בְּלִי דַד=בלדד, sine mammis, one brought up without his mother’s milk; צוֹפר = el—asfar, “the yellow,” flavedo. Comp. Abulfeda’s Hist. ante-islamica, Ed. Fleischer, p. 168 [Fürst: “The shaggy, or rough”]. The two latter names, being just those in respect to which the suspicion that they are a poetic invention could be in some measure justified, do not appear elsewhere in the Old Testament. [And they had made an appointment together to come, etc.; or more correctly: They met together by appointment; the proper meaning of the Niph. נוֹעַד being, as Del. and Dillm. point out, not to appoint a place for meeting (which would be נוֹעַץ rather), but to meet in an appointed place at an appointed time.—E.]
Job 2:12. And they raised their eyes afar off, and knew him not.—Two things may be inferred from these words: (1) That Job was now staying not in his own house, but out of doors, in a place which furnished miserable shelter, serving as a retreat for lepers; comp. on Job 2:8 above [and especially the extract from Wetst. concerning the mezbele]; and (2) that the disease had already disfigured him so that he could not be recognized (comp. notes on Job 2:7).—And sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven.—In addition to the weeping and the rending of their mantles, these words describe a third and a particularly violent symbol and expression of their sympathizing grief. Gathering up the dust they fling it into the air, i.e., “toward heaven,” until it falls back upon their heads; thus indicating that by a heavenly, a Divine dispensation, they felt themselves to be bowed down to the dust in sorrow (comp. Ezek. 27:30; Lam. 2:10, etc.)
Job 2:13. And they sat down with him upon the earth seven days and seven nights;i.e. as the sequel shows, in silence, and also without doubt fasting. This impressive demonstration of sympathizing sorrow reminds us, not of the seven days’ lamentation for Saul (1 Sam. 31:13), but rather of Ezekiel’s mourning, when he sat down for seven days astonished among the captives by the river Chebar (Ez. 3:15). To lay stress on the number seven as rigidly historical is inadmissible in view of the poetic ideal character of the description. At the same time, the statement contains nothing impossible or improbable, nothing at variance with customs and modes of thought which are known to prevail in the east, especially among oriental sages, with whom moreover, ascetic practices are always to be associated. Their “sitting down upon the ground” still further characterizes them as mourners in all they did; comp. 2 Sam. 12:16; Ezek. 26:16; Lam. 2:10.—And none spake a word unto him: lit. “without one (וְאֵין וגו׳) speaking to him a word.” This silence is to be understood as absolute—not as interrupted by occasional speech among themselves. [“This seven days’ silence has been thought improbable, and it has been sought in various ways to modify the statement. A great mistake. For it is to be borne in mind that what is observable in the well-known phenomena of mystical absorption in the East is, in a less exaggerated form, a universal characteristic of orientals. Rest as well as motion has with them more positive power than with us—a trait which Hamann, in the beginning of one of his most genial writings (the Æsthetica in nuce), mentions as characteristic of the primeval world of humanity: “The rest of our ancestors was a profounder sleep; and their motion a reeling dance. Seven days they would sit in the stillness of meditation; and then they would open their mouth for winged sayings.’ ” SCHLOTT.] The reason for the friends’ silence is given by the poet in the explanatory clause which follows: For they saw that the affliction was very great;i.e. they observed that Job’s painful condition, including the disease and the misery which caused it (כְּאֵב here accordingly not in a one-sided subjective sense, but also the objective sense of affliction, malady), was far too great to admit of their endeavoring to comfort him simply by words. It is therefore the overpowering sight of the nameless misery which has seized upon their friend that closes their mouth; although to this must be added the influence of the erroneous assumption, which controlled all of them, that Job’s terrible suffering had been occasioned by certain secret sins, the existence of which they had not before suspected, and which they had never deemed him capable of committing. And the fact that this erroneous assumption, which led them to look on their friend not only as one who was sorely afflicted, but as one who had fallen, lay at the bottom of their persistent mournful silence, and was even to be read on their countenances, must have made their presence to the sorely tried sufferer the more painful the longer it continued. And so their visit, which was undertaken according to Job 2:11 with the most loving intent, became, without their purposing it, a severe trial of his feelings (comp. 6:14 sq., especially Job 2:24)—a trial which at length affected him more powerfully, and became more insupportable to him than all former ones, driving him at last into that passionate and intemperate outbreak, which even the lamenting and doubting challenge of his wife had failed to call forth. Comp. Vilmar (Past. Theol. Blätt. xi. 69): “The temptation of Job becomes efficient by means of his friends. First of all, by their presence they cause his attention to be drawn exclusively to his own misery, and then by their reproaches they draw out from him, one after the other, the maintenance of his own innocence, his complaint because of the cruel misunderstanding of his friends, his dispute with them, and finally his dispute with God.” [“Thus a new trial awaits Job, one in which he cannot stand aloof from men, and go through in the secresy of his own soul—fighting his dark adversaries alone, and conquering and becoming strong in his solitude: his conflict this time is with men, with the best and most religious of men, and with the loftiest creed his time has heard of. It is a tremendous conflict; when a man stands alone, with all parties and forms of faith and thought, and even the world, or outward God, against him, and only himself and strong conscience, and his necessary thoughts of the unseen God and instinctive personal faith in Him as his helpers. It does not appear what place, if any, Satan holds in this new conflict; his name disappears from the book. We cannot say, whether he silently acknowledged himself baffled and retired, having done his worst on Job, and so this new trial, not of his contriving, but of God’s, who will by its means bring Job to fuller knowledge of Himself that he may be at peace; and if so, how infinitely deeper is God’s knowledge of us than Satan’s, and with what unspeakably profounder skill he can touch the deepest springs of our nature, and so get behind, do what Satan will, all his possible contrivances, for greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world—or whether we are to understand this new fire to be also of the devil’s kindling. We prefer to have done with him, and view the remaining portion of Job’s exercise as between him and God alone, who, though the devil failed, and retired in confusion, will yet display to the universe more wondrous strength and more marvellously the talismanic touch of the divine hand upon the human heart. It seems so; much of the poem is monologue, the objections and interpellations of the friends are but used by God as spurs to stimulate the soul to exercise itself on him. No one can doubt the divine wisdom in using the friends to bring Job into fuller knowledge of itself; the violence of human dialectic and the many-sidedness of several minds presented before Job in much greater completeness all the phases of his relation to heaven than could have been accomplished by the mere workings of his own mind.” DAV.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
The feature of the preceding Section of our book of greatest interest to the reader who would thoroughly investigate the Scriptures both from the speculative, doctrinal and ethical point of view, as well as from the apologetic, centre predominantly, indeed we may say exclusively, is the enigmatic figure of Satan.—The “Satan of the Prologue” is the standing theme of certain introductory chapters, or of elaborate dissertations in most of the modern Commentaries on Job, both critical and apologetic. The following are the fundamental questions treated in this connection: Can we and should we assume a personal intermediate cause out of the circle of the highest created existences, that is, a mighty fallen angel, to account for that which is sinful in the actions and motives of mankind in general? Again: Should we attribute to this evil spirit, even within the sphere of the external life of nature and humanity, operations which produce ruin and destruction, thus exhibiting him as a cause, not only of moral evil, but, in a qualified sense, also of physical evil on earth? Again: May we assume that like the good angels, he has access to God’s throne, and so has, as it were, a place and a voice, or, at any rate, certain ministerial functions in the councils of heaven? Finally—and this is, after those more general questions, that which specially relates to the peculiarities of the Satanology of the Book of Job—Can we assign the name, the functions, the whole appearance of Satan as the personal principle of evil, or, in a word, as the Adversary, to that more remote antiquity of the theocratic development, to which so many indications point as the most probable time to which to refer the composition of this book? Or are we constrained to regard the whole conception of Satan as the product only of a later development, say of a biblico-theological development moulded by influences proceeding from the Assyrian Babylon, or the Persians, and accordingly to bring down the composition, if not of the entire book, at least of the Prologue (together with the Epilogue, comp. Introd. § 8), into a later age, subsequent not only to the time of Moses, but even to that of Solomon? With reference to the skeptical element which resides in each one of those questions, and at the same time with a view to obtaining a more concise and simple treatment of the same, the question may be put thus: whether the Satan of the Book of Job is to be rejected—(1) on religious and moral grounds, as the product of a dualistic mythology, antagonistic to a pure monotheism, or (2) on physicotheological grounds as a superstition; or (3) on æsthetic grounds as a pure poetic fiction; or (4) on grounds derived from the history of revelation, as a scriptural and theological anachronism.
1. The theory that there is a Satan cannot be rejected on religious and moral grounds, for the entire Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments demonstrate the existence of such a being; never, however, in the dualistic sense of the religion of the Zend [Avesta], as an evil principle, absolutely and from eternity opposing the good God, but always as a relative or created evil principle, as an angel or spirit which had been created good by God, but which had afterwards fallen through its own criminal wickedness. As a matter of fact, this created evil principle—to the actual existence of which no one testifies more frequently, strongly, and emphatically than our Lord Himself in His discourses as recorded in the Gospels (the synoptical alike with that of John)—meets us already in the oldest book of the Bible, in Genesis, where the account given of the origin of sin (Job 3) so unmistakably presents the evil spirit, disguised as a serpent, as the author of sin in the development of humanity, that every attempt to explain the serpent as pure “allegory,” or a “mere hieroglyph,” runs off into absurdity. Not less do we find this same evil principle, if not by name, at least in fact, in the Azazel of Leviticus (Job 16:3 seq., 27), that “personification of abstract impurity as opposed to the absolute purity of Jehovah,” as Roskoff (Gesch. des Teufels, Bd. I., Leipzig, 1869) has perhaps not unsuitably defined him, as well as in the description, resembling our Prologue, given by the prophet Micah the elder in 1 Kings 22:21 seq, where הָרוּחַ, “the spirit” simply, is used to designate the evil spirit only because hitherto humanity had to trace everywhere mainly the operation of this spirit, the liar and murderer from the beginning, whereas of the Spirit in the highest and truest sense of the word, the Holy Spirit of God (Joel 3:1 [E. V., 2:28], John 3:34, etc.), it had learned as yet little or nothing. But also by name the Old Testament more than once already testifies to the existence of Satan, certain as it is that not only this Prologue, but also 1 Chron. 21:1 and Zech. 3:1, apply this designation to the same being; in the passage in 1 Chron. as a peculiar proper name without the article, in Zechariah, as in our passage, as an appellative, and consequently with the article. The signification attaching to the word in each case, whether with or without the article, is simply “the Adversary” (שָׂטָן from שָׂטַם=שָׂטַן, to he hostile to, adversari; Job 16:9; 30:21), or also “the Accuser” (Ps. 109:6). Comp. the New Testament equivalents ὁ διάβολος and ὁ κατήγως, Rev. 12:10; likewise the cases where שָׂטָן denotes a human adversary or enemy, such as 1 Sam. 29:4; 2 Sam. 19:23 ; 1 Kings 5:18 ; 11:14–25; also Num. 22:22, 32, where a good angel of Jehovah, in so far as he obstructs Balaam on his way, is spoken of as his “Satan.” This same signification, however, has in it nothing which in the slightest degree indicates an absolutely dualistic antagonism of Satan to God, and hence a character above that of a creature, or, in any sense, divine and eternal. And especially in this Prologue, which in any case, even if written after the time of Solomon, contains the earliest Biblical testimony to Satan’s invisible agency in tempting men, does he appear as distinctly as possible as belonging to the class of created spirits, an angel like the angels or “sons of God” (בִּנֵי הָאֱלֹהִים, Job 1:6 seq.; 38:4 seq.; Gen. 6:2; comp. Ps. 29:1; 89:7 , although indeed an angel possessed of an evil disposition, and guilty of evil actions, who in any case belongs to the same side with the angels who bring calamity and death (Job 33:22; Ps. 78:49), and who, as an accuser of men, is engaged in doing just the opposite of that which is attributed to those who are spoken of in our book as “interceding” or “mediating” angels (Job 5:1; 33:23 seq.). Nothing therefore can be more perverse or unhistorical than the attempt to represent the Satan of the Old Testament in general, and of our book in particular, as a Hebrew imitation, either of the Angramainyas—Ahriman of the Persians (so many of the earlier exegetes, also Umbreit, Renan, Hilgenfeld, Roskoff in the work cited above, Alex. Kohnt: Ueber die jüdische Angeologie und Dämonologie in ihrer Abhängigkeit vom Parsismus, Leipzig, 1866), or of the Set-Typhon of the Egyptians (so Diestel in his Treatise concerning Set Typhon, Azazel, and Satan, Stud. u. Krit., 1860, II.), and so to maintain the original uncreatedness of the evil spirit, his dualistic coexistence with God from eternity.3 It is certainly impossible to see how the theory of a tempter of men, a created being, coming forth out of the realm of evil spirits, the theory, i.e., of a fallen angel as a personal principle of evil, and author of sin in humanity, does any violence to the purity of the religious consciousness, or the moral earnestness of men; or why it should be necessary to deny that Satan is “of purely Israelitish origin and a natural product of primitive Hebraism,” and with Diestel (in the article referred to above), to maintain that “it would be no particular honor even for Israel to be able to claim him as its own, that he never had a proper footing in the Hebrew consciousness.” Comp. Delitzsch, I. 57: “But how should it be no honor for Israel, the people to whom the revelation of redemption was made, and in whose history the plan of redemption was developed, to have traced the poisonous stream of evil up to the fountain of its first free beginning in the spiritual world, and to have more than superficially understood the history of the fall of mankind by sin, which points to a disguised superhuman power, opposed to the Divine will? This perception undoubtedly only begins gradually to dawn in the Old Testament; but in the New Testament the abyss of evil is fully disclosed, and Satan has so far a hold on the consciousness of Jesus, that He regards His life’s vocation as a conflict with Satan. And the Protevangelium is deciphered in facts, when the promised seed of the woman crushed the serpent’s head, but at the same time suffered the bruising of its own heel.”
2. Again, the physico-theological ground, that such natural phenomena of a destructive character, as the ravages of lightning, storms, dire diseases, etc., are to be referred directly to the agency of God as Ruler of the universe, and that we ascribe to the evil spirit far too wide a sphere for the exertion of his power, when we attribute such results to him—this position does not sustain the test of more searching inquiry in the light of God’s Word. Not only does our book in that striking description which it gives of Job’s calamities in Job 1:13–18, and Job 2:7, introduce a whole series of such destructive natural agencies (two of which indeed are works of destruction accomplished by wild, godless men), referring the same to Satan as the intermediate instrument of a Divine decree, but the entire Scripture of the Old and New Testaments views all possible events of nature which are connected with the destinies of mankind, and all historical catastrophes, as brought about by the invisible agency of angelic powers, now of such as are good, and now of such as are evil. Whether man is preserved or injured, it represents either result in so far as man with his body belongs to the corporeal world, as accomplished by the agency of spirits (comp. v. Hofmann, Schriftbew., I. 285 seq.). And in particular does it introduce angels as causing desolating wars and defeats (comp. Dan. 10:1 seq.; Rev. 9:14 seq.; 20:8), also as letting loose the elements of destruction, such as fire, water, tempest, etc., in general, therefore as active powers engaged in furthering the manifestations of Divine wrath, now expressly representing them as belonging to the kingdom of Satan, now leaving their moral character undetermined. This it does quite often; our passage is by no means the only one; comp. 1 Chron. 21:1 sq.; Rev. 14:15; 16:5, and often. So that Luther accordingly expresses no absurdly superstitious notion, but what is essentially only the purely theistic representation of the Holy Scriptures as apprehended by faith, when in the exposition of the fourth petition of the Lord’s Prayer in his Greater Catechism, he writes: “The devil causes brawls, murders, sedition and war, also thunderstorms, hail, to destroy grain and cattle, to poison the air, etc.” The extent of the sphere which Luther here, and in many other passages, especially in his “Table-talk about the devil” (Werke, Bd., 60), assigns to the agency of Satan in injuring and destroying life, may be altogether too wide; even as in like manner the Satanological and demonological representations of the earlier ages of the Church may need in many ways to be limited and corrected in accordance with the assured results of the modern natural sciences and philosophical investigation. But on the whole it still remains indisputable that he who denies to Satan any agency whatever in the sphere of nature, and allows him exclusively a moral influence upon the will, has removed himself far from the foundation of revealed truth, and for the Satan of the Bible, the “Prince of this world,” who “has the power of death” (Heb. 2:14), substitutes what is only a semi-personal Phantom-Satan, an abstraction of modern thought, the existence of which is problematical. Comp. Delitzsch (I. 63): “As among men, so in nature, since the fall two different powers of Divine anger and Divine love are in operation; the mingling of these is the essence of the present Kosmos. Everything destructive to nature, and everything arising therefrom which is dangerous and fatal to the life of man, is the outward manifestation of the power of anger. In this power Satan has fortified himself; and this, which underlies the whole course of nature, he is able to make use of, so far as God may permit it, as being subservient to His chief design (comp. Rev. 13:13 with 2 Thess. 2:9). He has no creative power. Fire and storm, by means of which he works, are of God; but he is allowed to excite these forces to hostility against man, just as he himself is become an instrument of evil. It is similar with human demonocracy, whose very being consists in placing itself en rapport with the hidden powers of nature. Satan is the great magician, and has already manifested himself as such even in paradise, and in the temptation of Jesus Christ. There is in nature, as among men, an entanglement of contrary forces, which he knows how to unloose, because it is the sphere of his special dominion; for the whole course of nature in the change of its phenomena, is subject not only to abstract laws, but also to concrete supernatural powers, both bad and good.”
3. Neither is the Satan of our book to be assailed on æsthetic grounds; for his appearance before God in the midst of the other angels has nothing at variance with the position which all the rest of the Scriptures assigns to the Evil Spirit in the administration of the world, or the economy of the Divine kingdom, nothing which favors the suspicion that we have to do here with the arbitrary product of an inventive fancy, without objective reality. Herder, Eichhorn, Ilgen, and others in a former age [and so Wemyss] denied that the Satan of these two chapters has a nature decidedly evil, and regarded him as being, in respect to his moral character, an impartial, judicial agent of God, a divinely authorized censor morum, who exhibits scarcely any the slightest traces, or traits of a personal evil principle. This theory, however, must be rejected, not only on account of the unmistakably evil disposition and conduct which our poet attributes to him, but also on account of the analogy of Zech. 3:1 seq., a passage which not less decidedly than this in Job brings into connection these two facts: on the one hand that Satan’s character is thoroughly bad and opposed to God, on the other that he has the right to appear before God among the angels. The same may be said of Umbreit’s view: that the Satan of our poem is a creation of the poet’s imagination, suggested by Ps. 109:6 (Die Sünde im Alten Testament, 1853), as well as of those modern views generally, which find in the appearance of Satan among the holy “sons of God” in heaven anything singular, anything which contradicts what the Scripture teaches elsewhere concerning Satan (so e.g., Ewald, and Lutz in his Bibl. Dogmatik, 1847). It is enough to oppose to these mythologizing attempts of a biased criticism such New Testament passages as Luke 10:18; John 12:31 seq.; Rev. 12:9, which represent Satan’s right to appear before God in the ranks of celestial beings as continuing until the time of Christ and His redemptive work, and thus show the identity of the character of Satan in our book with that of the New Testament revelation, and in general the essential unity and consistency of the entire Satanology of the Holy Scriptures. Comp. what Schlottmann observes (p. 9 of his Commen., more particularly against Ewald) in favor of this identity of the Satan of the Prologue to our book with the same as presented in the remaining books of the Bible: “Even the later Hebrew representation of the world of evil spirits is much further removed from all dualism than Ewald’s description of it would imply. In all the Hebrew conceptions of the subject the evil spirits never appear otherwise than as originally pure, but fallen through their own sin. They never have the power to accomplish more than the universal plan of the Almighty God permits to them. But this same thought the Prologue expresses in bold, poetic fashion when it relates that Satan, in order to tempt Job, must first obtain permission thereto from God Himself. In this the poet certainly does not intend in the least to lessen the gulf fixed between good and evil; rather is that striking contrast which is presented in the appearance of the unholy one as an inferior in the assembly of the holy altogether intentional, precisely as in the masterly conception of Giotto’s celebrated picture. Moreover, that Satan here appears not at the head of his hosts, but alone, is a peculiarity that is required by the simplicity of plan in the poem; any other representation would be a superfluous detail of ornamentation. And how would the symbolic significance of that scene, great in its simplicity as it stands, be completely distorted and obscured, if Satan should, according to Ewald’s supposition, enter the assembly of the holy ones with all his adherents,” etc. Even Goethe, who, according to his own published confession, used the Satan of our book as the original of one of his most powerful spirit-creations, of Mephistopheles in Faust (see his remarks on the subject in Burkhardt’s Conversations of Goethe with the Chancellor v. Müller, Stuttgart, 1871, p. 96: “A great work is produced only by the appropriation of foreign treasures. Have I not in Mephistopheles appropriated Job and a song of Shakespeare?”)—even Goethe was evidently far removed from the disposition to pervert or to obscure the truly and decidedly diabolical character of this “spirit which always denies,” great as is the difference between the modern creation of his muse, and the tempter of this venerable poem in the volume of revelation.
4. Finally, as regards the arguments derived from the history of religion or revelation, by which it is sought to prove that the Satan of our book is a Scriptural and theological anachronism, they resolve themselves as to their substance into arbitrary assumptions. The Satanology of Job exhibits precisely that conception of the character which we are justified in expecting in view of the probability that it was composed between the patriarchal age and that of the exile. The fact that the name Satan, i.e., the “Adversary,” the “Accuser,” already attaches to the Evil One as a proper name (or at all events as an appellative used absolutely, comp. above, No. 1), exhibits, it is true, a certain progress, as compared with the documents of the Mosaic age, seeing that in them his dark personality is either symbolically veiled, as by the serpent in Gen. 3, or mysteriously kept out of sight, as by the mystical name Azazel, Lev. 16. But this progress is by no means of such a sort as to require for its explanation the assumption of transforming influences of a religious-historical character from without, proceeding from the East, from Babylonia, or Persia; the name שָׂטָן being most assuredly all the time a genuine Hebrew name, mocking at every attempt to derive it from non-Israelitish heathen names of divinities! For, as has been already remarked above, nothing that is essential to the complete Satanic nature is wanting in that evil spirit-nature which lies concealed in the serpent of Paradise; as a crawling, crafty, smooth-tongued tempter of men, he is already preparing the way to become their accuser. And if it be said that the documents which stand nearest to the patriarchal and Mosaic ages make comparatively little mention of him, if on any given occasion they introduce him neither as tempter nor as accuser, if e.g. in the fearful temptation which assailed Abraham when he was commanded to offer his son Isaac (Gen. 22), they leave his agency entirely out of the account, the simple explanation of all this is that the recognition of the mysterious co-operation of this evil spiritual agency with God’s activity as ruler of the world was effected only very gradually among the people of God. It was a part of the redemptive plan of God so to lead and to educate them that at first everything, even temptations and severe moral trials, was to be referred to His own action and disposition, and only afterwards were they accustomed to discriminate between the agency of angels and demons in such cases and that of God. Comp. Delitzsch and Schlottmann in l. c.; also L. Schulze in the Allg. liter. Anz., 1870, Oct., p. 270, who reduces to its exact value Dillmann’s assertion that the conception of Satan in our book is one that is only in process of development, and assigns to it the proper limitations.
On the question, why no further mention is made of Satan in the remainder of the poem, and especially in the Epilogue, Schlottmann expresses himself in the following striking language in l. c.: “How the power granted to the Evil One is everywhere made subservient to the Divine plan that is set forth in the clearest light by the issue of the poem; not only does Satan fail of his own end, but the temptations which he brings on the pious hero are made instrumental in raising him to a higher stage of knowledge and union with God. But that no mention at all is made in the Epilogue of the confusion brought on Satan is occasioned by the high simplicity of the poem, which everywhere confines itself to that which is most essential, and would fain leave the reader to divine everything which can be divined. Any scene at the end of the book, in which Satan should again make his appearance, no matter how the same might be described, would be insipid, unworthy, and fatal to the quiet grandeur of the conclusion.”
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
The element of Satanology in the above section, which doctrinally considered is the most attractive, cannot of course have too much prominence given to it by the practical expositor. For him the principal figure in the Introduction of the poem is Job himself, the pious man who was at first abundantly endowed with earthly comforts, but who was afterwards plunged at once by a mysterious Divine decree ordaining his trial into a real abyss of temporal misery; who, however, bore this trial with unshaken patience and constancy, without allowing himself, for a time at least, to indulge in the slightest outbreak of complaining despondency, or passionate murmuring. This accordingly must be the theme of the practical and homiletic annotator on these introductory chapters of the book: Job, the Old Testament saint, an example of that perfect patience in suffering, which is and remains also for the child of God under the New Dispensation one of the highest and most needful virtues (comp. Jas. 5:11); or in other words: Job, the Old Testament Ideal of a suffering righteous man, as a type of Christ, the Righteous Man in the highest and purest sense of the word, who by His innocent suffering is become the founder of the New Covenant. In so far as any intimation is conveyed of a want of similarity between the conduct in suffering of the Old Testament type on the one side, and that of Christ and of true Christians (comp. 1 Pet. 4:12 seq.) on the other, the closing verses of the Prologue (Job 2:11–13) may be included in the text, where the impending outbreak of the unregenerate and imperfect element in the nature of the Old Testament saints, is suggested and anticipated. We may thus point out how the sufferer, after victoriously overcoming so many preceding temptations, nevertheless succumbed to that last trial which visited him in the mute yet eloquent conduct of his friends, now become the accusers and suspecters of his innocence, when they sat down beside him. Or, in other words, it may be shown how the suffering saint, before the coming of Christ, could resist indeed all other temptations, but was stranded at last on the rock of self-righteousness and of the diseased pride of virtue—in contrast with which the conduct beseeming the Christian sufferer (the true πάσχειν ὡς Χριστιανός, 1 Peter 4:16) is at once suggested. If however we decide to dwell more thoroughly and exclusively on the conduct of the type, we shall then omit from our text these closing verses, which are besides in close connection with Job 3, and which form as it were the immediate basis of the gloomy picture there presented, and we shall treat simply of Job’s steadfast endurance in the fire of sore tribulations which came upon him. In the latter case again we can either combine into one whole the two stages of the trial, the first—the lighter, consisting of the loss of his property and family, and the other—the more severe, consisting of the infliction on him of the most frightful of all bodily plagues; or we can consider the subject under two divisions, the point of separation being Job 1:22. The attempt of Delitzsch to establish seven temptations as befalling Job in succession (the first four in Job 1:13–18; the fifth in Job 2:7, 8; the sixth in Job 2:9, 10; and the seventh in Job 2:11–13), could be applied of course only in case we include those closing verses, narrating the mute visit of the friends. Much, however, may be urged against this division; as, e.g., that no regular gradation can be observed in the seven trials thus distinguished; that the first four (Job 1:13–18) constitute one connected trial, rather than four distinct trials, etc. On this account we must perhaps waive any homiletic use of this division, especially seeing that it might easily suggest a sensible contradiction to Job 5:1–9: “in the seventh [trouble] no evil shall befall thee.”
Particular Passages.—Job 1:1–5. COCCEIUS (Job 1:5): Scripture selects this example of pious solicitude, in order to show that this holy man exercised the greatest solicitude at a time when we are wont to exercise it the least. For during our festivities what is it about which we mostly occupy our mind and conversation, but vanities? It is showing too much sourness, we think, to speak at our cups about the Kingdom of God, or His fear, or the hope of eternal life.… Finally, the constancy of this custom of Job’s is to be noted. He was never free from care. However well instructed and obedient his children might be, he by no means laid aside his solicitude in their behalf. It is easy, when we think that we stand, to stumble and fall. There always remains in men a proneness to sin, however much they cultivate piety.—STARKE: Job gives to all parents an example: (1) That they should keep a watchful eye on their children’s conduct and life. (2) That they should pray God to give their children salvation and blessing, without allowing themselves, however, to be prompted by their errors and transgressions to curse them, or to wish them evil. (3) That they must also pray in behalf of their children that God would be gracious to them and forgive their sins.
Job 1:6–12. BRENTIUS: Every temptation proceeds both from the Lord and from Satan. The latter seeks to destroy and to betray, the former to try man, and to teach His will. Hence faith, as it receives the good from the Lord’s hand, so also it receives suffering. For he who receives the cross out of Satan’s hand, receives it for his destruction (comp. 2 Cor. 7:10); but he who receives it from the Lord’s hand, receives it for his trial (comp. Heb. 12.)—STARKE: God, in accordance with His hidden counsel, permissively decrees at times much misery even to the most pious. This truth has always been a great stumbling-block to the reason.… It is to be observed, however: (a) That these sore trials were not occasioned in the first instance by Satan’s calumnies against Job, but that even before the foundation of the world God had decreed and purposed to put all His saints to the test, each one in his measure. (b) That God inwardly sustained and strengthened Job so much with His consolation that his afflictions were as easily supported by him as the slight suffering of another. (c) That it was God’s will that Job’s patience should be made known to others for their blessed edification and imitation. (d) That God caused the friends’ lack of knowledge to be instrumental in putting them to shame, and in leading them to be better instructed in the mystery of the cross. (e) That to Job himself also the exercise and trial of his faith was in the highest degree advantageous and necessary. (f) That the final issue decreed for these sufferings was not only one that could be borne, but also one to be desired, and in the highest degree delightful and honorable for Job.—SEB. SCHMIDT (on Job 1:12); From this verse we learn clearly that the power of the Devil is indeed great, so that, when the Divine protection is withdrawn, men are in his hand; that it is nevertheless finite, and in ways without number weaker than the Divine; and hence that he can do nothing whatsoever unless the Lord should permit it to him, just as here he could not destroy even a single sheep of Job’s before he had received permission.—VICT. ANDREA: This much is certain, that this scene in heaven may teach us that the destinies of men on earth have their ulterior roots and determining causes in the heavenly world; and that Satan, who is here represented as taking an active part in human affairs, notwithstanding all his hostility, can touch us only just so far as the Almighty God in His wisdom and love permits him.
Job 1:13–18. ZEYSS (in STARKE): Afflictions seldom come singly, but each joins hand with the other, and before one has passed away, another is already at the door, Ps. 62:8. Thus the Christian state is altogether a state of affliction, for which the best of all provisions is an iron front and a strong paternoster, i.e., an intrepid faith and earnest prayer.
Job 1:19–22. BRENTIUS: Thou wilt endure without great sorrow the loss of all thy possessions, if only the Lord, the treasury of all good things, remains. Set aside the Lord, there being only the cross placed before thee, and thou shalt see what blasphemies will arise in a man’s heart.—OSIANDER: In adversity we should look not at the means and instruments by which God sends calamity upon us, but to God only, from whom comes both good and evil, prosperity and adversity (Ruth 1:13; Sir. 2:14).
Job 2:1–8. ZEYSS: God sometimes permits Satan to have power over the pious, to torment them, either in the body, by this or that painful casualty, or in the soul, by tempting them, in order that their faith, their patience, humility, devotion, prayerfulness, etc., may be tested, and the good which God has imparted to them, may be made manifest (Tob. 12:13).—JOACH. LANGE: If any man is a brother of Job, although it be only in the sense that he endures a severe and long-continued sickness, produced, not by any special agency of Satan, but by natural causes—let him nevertheless be comforted, seeing that he may be assured that such a decree of God is by no means a token of Divine displeasure—provided only that the sufferer maintains his integrity, that after the example of Job his mind is upright with God, and he adheres loyally to Him.—J. H. JACOBI: Job, vindicating his virtue, justifying his Maker’s eulogy of him, sits down on his heap of ashes as the glory and boast of God. God and His whole heavenly host look to see how he will bear his calamity. “He triumphs, and his triumph reaches higher than the stars.”
Job 2:9–13. BRENTIUS (on Job 2:9, 10): You see here how great an evil is a wicked wife! For a wife is given by the Lord to share in bearing life’s labors, and, as Scripture says, for a help-meet. But lo! Job’s wife becomes a stumbling-block, and a blaspheming instrument of Satan; and thus she is a preacher of the irreligious flesh, teaching him in his afflictions to esteem God as dead, or as negligent of human affairs, and distrusting Divine succor, to rely on his own powers, and industry, and endeavors.—WOHLFARTH: A true friend in need (Sir. 40:23; Rom. 12:15), what a priceless treasure! As when all turned away from Job, and even his wife forsook him, three noble friends drew nigh to comfort him; thus it is that true friendship at all times asserts itself.—STARKE: Even in ministering comfort we must use discretion, in order that the wound which has been inflicted may not be torn open again … Job, who was so poorly comforted by his friends, is a type of Christ, who in His sufferings was also deprived of all consolation.
Delitzsch perhaps states it too strongly when he says: “he avoids even the slightest reference to anything Israelitish.”
According to the author of the art. Medicine in Smith’s Bible Dict. there is still another disease called Elephantiasis Arabum, quite distinct from the disease which afflicted Job, which is known as the Elephantiasis Græcorum.
Comp. that which has been advanced against this theory even by such liberally disposed investigators as Dillmann p. 8) and Davidson (Introd. II, p. 199, 230 seq.); in like manner Max Müller’s objections to the prevalent assumption of the identity of most of the religious traditions in the book of Genesis with those of the Zend Avesta (in his Essays, vol. I., p. 129 seq.).
There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.