Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
SECOND SERIES OF THE CONTROVERSIAL DISCOURSES
THE ENTANGLEMENT INCREASING:
I. Eliphaz and Job: 15–17
A.—Eliphaz: God’s punitive justice is revealed only against evil-doers
1. Recital in the way of rebuke of all in Job’s discourses that is perverted, and that bears testimony against his innocence:
1 Then answered Eliphaz the Temanite, and said,
2 Should a wise man utter vain knowledge,
and fill his belly with the East wind?
3 Should he reason with unprofitable talk?
or with speeches wherewith he can do no good?
4 Yea, thou castest off fear,
and restrainest prayer before God.
5 For thy mouth uttereth thine iniquity,
and thou choosest the tongue of the crafty.
6 Thine own mouth condemneth thee, and not I:
yea, thine own lips testify against thee.
7 Art thou the first man that was born?
or wast thou made before the hills?
8 Hast thou heard the secret of God?
and dost thou restrain wisdom to thyself?
9 What knowest thou that we know not?
what understandest thou, which is not in us?
10 With us are both the gray-headed and very aged men,
much elder than thy father.
11 Are the consolations of God small with thee?
is there any secret thing with thee?
12 Why doth thine heart carry thee away,
and what do thy eyes wink at,
13 that thou turnest thy spirit against God,
and lettest such words go out of thy mouth?
14 What is man, that he should be clean?
and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous?
15 Behold He putteth no trust in His saints;
yea, the heavens are not clean in His sight.
16 How much more abominable and filthy is man,
which drinketh iniquity like water?
17 I will show thee, hear me;
and that which I have seen I will declare;
18 which wise men have told—
from their fathers—and have not hid it:
19 unto whom alone the earth was given,
and no stranger passed among them.
2. A didactic admonition on the subject of the retributive justice of God in the destiny of the ungodly
20 The wicked man travaileth with pain all his days,
and the number of years is hidden to the oppressor.
21 A dreadful sound is in his ears:
in prosperity the destroyer shall come upon him.
22 He believeth not that he shall return out of darkness,
and he is waited for of the sword.
23 He wandereth abroad for bread, saying, Where is it?
he knoweth that the day of darkness is ready at his hand.
24 Trouble and anguish shall make him afraid;
they shall prevail against him as a king ready to the battle.
25 For he stretcheth out his hand against God,
and strengtheneth himself against the Almighty:
26 he runneth upon him, even on his neck,
upon the thick bosses of his bucklers;
27 because he covereth his face with his fatness,
and maketh collops of fat on his flanks:
28 and he dwelleth in desolate cities,
and in houses which no man inhabiteth,
which are ready to become heaps.
29 He shall not be rich, neither shall his substance continue,
neither, shall he prolong the perfection thereof upon the earth.
30 He shall not depart out of darkness;
the flame shall dry up his branches,
and by the breath of his mouth shall he go away.
31 Let not him that is deceived trust in vanity,
for vanity shall be his recompense.
32 It shall be accomplished before his time,
and his branch shall not be green.
33 He shall shake off his unripe grape as the vine,
and shall cast off his flower as the olive.
34 For the congregation of hypocrites shall be desolate,
and fire shall consume the tabernacles of bribery.
35 They conceive mischief, and bring forth vanity,
and their belly prepareth deceit.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
This second discourse of Eliphaz is again the longest of the attacks made on Job by his three opponents in this second series or act. Not only by its length, but also by its confident, impassioned tone, it gives evidence of being a deliverance of opinion by the oldest and most distinguished of the three, in short by their leader. Apart from certain indications of increased violence, however, it adds nothing at all that is new to that which had been previously maintained by Eliphaz against Job. Its first principal division (Job 15:2–19) subjects that which was erroneous in Job’s discourses to the same rigid criticism and censure, which culminates in a renewed and more emphatic application to Job of the doctrine advocated in the former discourse, of the impurity of all before God (Job 15:14–19; comp. Job 4:17 seq.). The second division (Job 15:20–35) is occupied with a prolonged dissertation on the destiny of the ungodly, as an example repeating itself in accordance with God’s righteous decree, and full of warning for Job. The first division comprises three strophes of five verses each, together with a shorter group of three verses (Job 15:17–19), which forms the transition to the following division. The latter consists of three strophes, of which the middle one numbers six verses, the first and last each five.
2. First Division: Censuring the perversity of Job in his discourses, and pointing out the evidences which they gave of his guilt; Job 15:2–19.
First Strophe: Introduction [Job’s discourses disprove his wisdom, injure religion, and testify against himself] Job 15:2–6.
Job 15:2. Doth a wise man utter [or, answer with] windy knowledge?—[Eliphaz begins each one of his three discourses with a question]. Job had clearly enough set himself forth as a Wise Man, Job 12:3; 13:2. Hence this ironical contrast between this self-praise and the “windy” nature (comp. Job 8:2; 16:3) of that which he really knew.—And fill his breast [sein Inneres, his inward parts] with the stormy East wind?—So Delitzsch, whose translation is to be preferred on the score of taste to the more common and literal version: “and fill his belly with the East wind?” even if we grant that בֶּטֶן is not, without further qualification, synonymous with לֵב, and consequently not to be taken as a mere designation of the “thinking inner part” of man (although in favor of this application of it, as maintained by Delitzsch, we might cite, if not Job 15:35 of this chapter, at least Job 32:18 seq.). In any case קָדִים, “East wind,” is here (as well as in Hos. 12:2  a stronger synonym of רוּחַ, “wind,” and so describes the violence, or the ceaseless noisy bluster and roar of Job’s discourses; and the “belly,” or the inward part, which must take into itself such discourses and labor for their refutation, appears as though it were a sail, or tent-canvas inflated by a heavy storm!
Job 15:3. An explanatory clause subordinate to the preceding interrogative clause:—Arguing with speech which availeth nought, and with words by which one can do no good.—The Inf. Absol. הוֹכֵחַ can be taken neither as an interrogative finite verb (Hirzel, Renan: se defend il-par des vaines paroles? [“for though the Inf. Absol. is so used in a historical clause (Job 15:35) it is not in interrogative.” Del.]), nor as the subject (Ewald: “to reprove with words profiteth not,” etc.—as if this useless striving with words were opposed to a more efficient contention by the use of facts) [which yields indeed, as Dillmann remarks, a good meaning, to wit, that mere words availed nothing for self-justification, when opposed by facts, as e. g. the fact of his suffering, which was presumptive evidence against him. But such a contrast is not expressed. The אַף of Job 15:4 does not at all express it]. Rather is it joined to the preceding finite verbs in the sense of an ablative gerund (redarguendo s. disputando); comp. Ewald, § 280, a.
Job 15:4. Yea more, thou [thyself] dost make void the fear of God. אַף, a strong copula, adding a new and more serious charge, like the phrase “over and above;” comp. Job 14:3. [אַתָּה, emphatic—“even thou,” who dost fancy thyself to be called on to remind us of the fear of God, Job 13:9 seq.] יִרְאָה, absolute, as in Job 4:6; הֵפֵר, “to remove, make void,” as in Job 5:12 [lit. to break, destroy; Rodwell: “thou dost break down piety”].—And diminishest (devout) meditation before God—שִׂיחָה לִפְנֵי־אֵל, according to Ps. 102:1; 119:97, 99, the same with “devotion, pious prayerful reflection” [should not therefore be rendered “prayer,” although prayer is a prominent element in it. It includes the whole meditative side of piety, that over which a sanctified sentiment rules, as יראה includes the practical side, over which conscience rules. Eliphaz charges therefore that the tendency of Job’s speech and conduct is to undermine piety in its most important strongholds, to injure it in its most vital points.—E.]. In regard to the form שִׂיחָה [with feminine ending] see Job 3:4.—גָּרַע, detrahere, to derogate from, to prejudice [Fürst: to weaken, to lessen]; comp. below Job 15:8, where it conveys more the sense of “drawing to one’s-self” [reserving, attrahere], and Job 36:7, where it means “withdrawing.”
Job 15:5. For thy transgression teaches thy mouth: i. e., thou allowest thyself to be wholly influenced in what thou sayest by thy sin, thou showest thyself, even in thy words, to be entirely ruled by it. So correctly the Vulg., Raschi, Luther, Dillm. [Ewald, Schlottm.], for the probability is in favor of עֲוֹנְךָ, which stands first, being the subject of the sentence. Moreover, the rendering which has latterly become current (since Rosenm., Umbreit, Hirzel, etc.): “thy mouth teaches, i. e., exposes [E. V. ‘uttereth’] thine iniquity,” is at variance with the usual sense of אִלֵּף, which signifies “to teach, to instruct,” not “to show, to declare.” [To which Schlottmann adds that this rendering secures a better connection between the first and second members of the verse. It exhibits to us “in a manner alike original and suitable, the internal motive from which Job’s presumptuous and still crafty discourses proceed”].—And thou choosest the speech [lit. the tongue] of the crafty: (עֲרוּמִים essentially as in Job 5:12) i. e., thou doest as crafty offenders do, who, when accused, hypocritically set themselves forth as innocent, and indeed even take the offensive against their accusers, (as Job did in Job 13:4 seq.). [“The perverse heart teaches the guilty man presumptuously to assail God, and at the same time so to arrange his words that in appearance he is filled with the greatest zeal for the piety which he really undermines.” Schlott.] The rendering of Rosenm., Hirzel [Noyes, Conant, Carey], etc.” “while thou (although thou) choosest, etc.” is less satisfactory, and goes with the rendering of the first member, which is controverted above.
Job 15:6. Thy mouth condemns thee (see Job 9:20) and not I, and thy lips testify against thee.—The mouth is here personified as a judge pronouncing an unfavorable decision, declaring one guilty, while at the same time the lips figure as witnesses, or accusers (עָנָה בְּ, a vox forensis; for the masc. יַעֲנוּ בָךְ after the fem. שְׂפָתֶיּךָ comp. Prov. 5:2; 26:23). Comp. still further the New Testament parallel passage, Matth. 12:37. [“These words, according to Eliphaz’s meaning, place Job’s guilt not merely in his words, but rather set forth these as confirming the sinful actions, which he is assumed to have committed on account of the sufferings which have been appointed for him.” Schlott.].
Second Strophe: Job 15:7–11. [Ironical questioning in regard to the extraordinary superiority which Job’s conduct implied that he arrogated to himself].
Job 15:7. Wast thou born as the first man? (רִאשׁוֹן [רְיִשׁוֹן׳׳ is the original form, which appears again in Josh. 21:10, and is retained by the Samaritans; רִאשׁוֹן, instead of which we have in Job 8:8רִישׁוֹן, which has passed into general use, and is hence chosen by the K’ri.” Dillm.] in the constr. st. followed by the collective אָדָם; hence lit. “as first of men.—Delitzsch takes אָדָם as predicate nominative: “wast thou as the first one born as a man?” a rendering which is altogether too artificial. The question presupposes that the first-created man, by virtue of his having proceeded immediately from God’s hand, possessed the deepest insight into the mysteries of the Divine process of creation. Comp. the Adam Kadmon of the Kabbalists, the Kajomorts of the Avesta (πρῶτος ἄνθρωπος of the Manicheans), the Manu (i. e., “the thinking one”) of the Brahmanic legends of creation as well as the ironical proverb of the Hindûs: “Aye, aye, he is the first man, no wonder he is so wise!” (Roberts, Oriental Illustrations, p. 276). [“Eliphaz evidently gives in these two verses the conception of a First Man, (like the Manu of the Hindûs), possessed as such of the highest wisdom, a being who before the foundations of the earth were laid, was present, a listener, as it were, to the deliberations concerning creation in the council of God, and thus a partaker at least of creative wisdom (Job 28:23 seq.), without being identified with the Divine חכמה.” Dillm. “Many erroneously understand this expression as signifying simply the greatest antiquity, so that the sense would be: dost thou combine in thyself the wisdom of all the centuries, from the creation of the world on? This conception would be unsuitable for the reason that it would have no reality corresponding to it, the first man being conceived of as dead long since.” Schlott.].—And wast thou brought forth before the hills?—חוֹלַל, passive of חוֹלֵל “to whirl” [hence to writhe, be in pain, travail], Ps. 90:2.—Precisely the same expression occurs in Prov. 8:25b, an utterance of God’s Eternal Wisdom, which is doubtless an intentional allusion to this passage. [So also Delitzsch.—Schlottmann, on the contrary, thinks it indisputable that this passage contains an allusion, if not to the passage in Proverbs, then to an original source common to both, so that the sense would be: “art thou the essential Divine Wisdom itself, through which God created the world?” The verse thus furnishes a pregnant and energetic progression of thought and expression. “Being born before the hills,” and “sitting in God’s council,” could not be taken as accidentia sine subjecto, which without having a real substratum, are sarcastically predicated of Job, but they must be regarded as inhering in a definite subject, with which Job is now compared, as immediately before he was compared with the first man; and this makes it necessary that we should think of the ante-mundane Wisdom described in Prov. 8, which from an early period was brought into special relation to the first man. Ewald accordingly paraphrases Job 15:7, 8: “Thou, who wouldest be wiser than all other men, dost thou stand perchance at the head of humanity, like the Logos, the first alike in age, and in worth and nearness to God?”]
Job 15:8. Didst thou listen in the council of Eloah?—סוֹר, as in Jer. 23:18; comp. Ps. 89:8 . [“Here God is represented in Oriental language as seated in a divan, or council of state, … and El. asks of Job whether he had been admitted to that council” Barnes.]—And dost thou keep back wisdom to thyself?חָכְמָה without the article, denoting the absolute divine wisdom; comp. Job 11:6; 12:2; Prov. 8:1 seq. In regard to גרע, see above on Job 15:4. [Gesenius: “Dost thou reserve all wisdom to thyself?” like the Arabic, to absorb, drink up. Fürst: “to snatch away: hast thou purloined wisdom to thyself? i. e. captured it as a booty.”] The representation of the First Man, endowed with the highest wisdom, a witness of God’s activity in creating and ordering the world, still lies at the bottom of these questions. Comp. God’s questions at a later period to Job: Job 38:3 seq. [“Having obtained the secret of that council, art thou now keeping it wholly to thyself—as a prime minister might be supposed to keep the purposes resolved on in the divan?” Barnes.]
On Job 15:9 comp. Job 12:3; 13:2, to which self-conscious utterances of Job Eliphaz here replies.
Job 15:10. Both the gray-headed and the aged [hoary] are among us; or: “also among us are the gray-headed, are the aged;” for the גַּם is inverted, as in Job 2:10, and as in the parallel passages there cited. בָּנוּ is equivalent to: “in our generation, in our race.” We are to think, on the one side, of Job’s appeal to the aged men, to whom he owed his wisdom, Job 12:12; on the other side, of the proverbial wisdom of the “sons of the East,” to whom the three friends as well as Job belonged (1 Kings 4:30), especially that of the Temanites; see above on Job 2:11. The supposition of Ewald, Hirzel, Dillmann, etc., that Eliphaz, “in modestly concealed language,” referred to himself, as the most aged of the three, has but little probability, for the statement: “there is also among us (three) a gray-headed, an aged man,” would in the mouth of El. himself have in it something exceedingly forced, if he had thereby meant himself; and the collective use of the sing. שָׂב and יָשִׂישׂ presents not the slightest grammatical difficulty. Still further, if El. had (according to b) declared himself “more abundant in days than Job’s father,” he would have said of himself that which would have been simply monstrous. The correct explanation is given among the moderns by Rosenm., Arnheim, Umbreit, Delitzsch. [“It will be seen (infra xviii. 3) that in the discussion carried on between Job and his friends, he is not always regarded as a single individual, but rather as the representative of the party whose views he holds, that of the philosophers, namely, who wish to understand and account for everything; while his friends, as the contrary, represent the orthodox party, whose principle it is to declare everything that comes from God good and right, whether it be comprehensible or incomprehensible to the human intellect. Hence the plural בְּעֵינֵיכֶם, in your eyes, used by Bildad (though speaking to Job alone), in the chapter alluded to, i. e. in the eyes of you philosophers. In like manner, in the verse before us El. says: Both gray-headed and very aged men are amongst us. Amongst us orthodox people.” Bernard.]
Job 15:11. Are the consolations of God (comp. Job 21:2) too little for thee (lit. are they less than thee—comp. Num. 16:9; Is. 7:13)? [The irony of the question is severe: Too little for thee are the consolations of God? The words reveal at the same time the narrow self-complacency of the speaker, the consolations of God being such as he and the friends had sought to administer, for which El., however, claims a Divine value and efficacy.—E.], and a word so gentle with thee?i. e. a word which, like my former discourse, dealt with thee so tenderly and gently. On לָאַט, elsewhere לְאַט, lit. “for softness,” i. e. softly, gently [e. g.Is. 8:6 of the soft murmur and gentle flow of Siloah], comp. Ew. § 217, d; § 243, c. Eliphaz here identifies his former address to Job with a consolation and admonition proceeding from God himself; as in fact in delivering the same (see Job 4:12 seq.), he ascribed the principal contents of it to a Divine communication. In regard to the gentleness which he here claims for that former discourse, comp. especially Job 4:2; 5:8, 17 seq.
Third Strophe: Job 15:12–16. [Severe rebuke of Job’s presumptuous discontent, founded on man’s extreme sinfulness.]
Job 15:12. Why does thy heart carry thee away?לָקַח, auferre, abripere. [לֵב here for deep inward agitation, excitement of feeling (Delitzsch: “wounded pride”). Why dost thou allow the stormy discontent of thy bosom to transport thee beyond thyself?—E.]—And why twinkle thine eyes?רזם, ἅπ. λεγ. = Aram. and Arab. רמז, “to wink, to blink,” said here of the angry, excited snapping, or rolling of the eyes [referring, according to Renan, to such a manifestation of angry impatience with the hypocrisy of El. at this point of his discourse; and similarly Noyes: “why this winking of thine eyes?”]. Comp. Cant. 6:5 (according to the correct interpretation, see my remarks on the passage).
Job 15:13. Depending on the preceding verse: That thou turnest against God thy snorting. רוּחַ here meaning angry breathing, θυμός[“thus expressed because it manifests itself in πνέειν (Acts 9:1), and has its rise in the πνεῦμα (Eccl. 7:9).” Delitzsch], as in Judg. 8:3; Prov. 16:32; Is. 25:4; comp. above Job 4:9.—And sendest forth words out of thy mouth?מִלִּין (comp. Job 4:2) as parallel with רוּחַ can mean here only vehement, intemperate speaking, passionate words, not empty speaking, as Kamphn. explains it.
Job 15:14 repeats the principal proposition of Eliphaz in his former discourse (Job 4:17–20), with an accompanying reminder of Job’s confession in Job 14:4, which was in substantial harmony therewith. On יְלוּר אִשָּׁה comp Job 14:1.
Job 15:15. Behold, in His holy ones He puts no trust. קְרשִׁים, the same as עבדים, Job 4:18, and hence used of the angels [see on Job 5:1].—And the heavens are not pure in His eyes. שָׁמַיִם is neither here, nor in Is. 49:13 (comp. Luke 15:18, 21; Matt. 21:25), to be taken as a synonym of מלאכים, or of אַנְגְלֵי מְרוֹמָא (Targ.), as many commentators explain from the Targumists down to Hirzel, Heiligst., Welte [Schlott., Carey, Ren.], etc. Rather, as the parallel passage in Job 25:5 incontestably shows, it designates the starry heavens, which are here contemplated in respect of their pure brilliancy, and their physical elevation above the impure earthly sphere. So correctly Umbreit, Delitzsch, Dillmann. [“In comparison with the all-transcending holiness and purity of God, the creatures which ethically and physically are the purest, are impure. How in the representations of antiquity ethical and physical purity and impurity are throughout used interchangeably is well enough known.” Dillmann.] The angels are indeed regarded as inhabiting the heavenly spheres, as is indisputably proved by the phrase עבא השמים (1 Kings 22:19; Is. 24:21; Ps. 148:2; comp. Gen. 2:1), and the fact that the Holy Scriptures everywhere speak of angels and the starry heavens together. Comp. Del. on this passage and on Gen. 2:1; Hengstenberg; Ewald, K.—Ztg., 1869; Preface, No. 3, 4; Zöckler: Die Urgeschichte der Erde und des Menschen (1868), p. 12 seq.; also below, on Job 38:7.
Job 15:16. Much less then (אַף כִּי, quanto minus, like אַף above in Job 4:19) the abominable and corrupt (נֶאֱלָח, lit. soured, one corrupted by the ζύμη κακίας, 1. Cor. 5:8, one “thoroughly corrupted,” Del.), the man who drinks iniquity like water, i. e. who is as eager to do iniquity, shows as much avidity for sin, as a thirsty man pants for water; comp. the repetition of this same figure by Elihu, also Ps. 73:10; Prov. 26:6; Sir. 24:21. The whole description relates to the moral corruption of mankind generally, of which Eliphaz intentionally holds up before Job “a more hideous picture” (according to Oetinger) than the latter himself had given in Job 14:4, because he has in view the impurity, ill-desert, and need of repentance of Job himself. Comp. still further what he says Job 5:7 on the spark-like proneness of man to sin and its penalty.
Fourth Strophe: Job 15:17–19. Transition to the didactic discourse which follows in the form of a captatio benevolentiæ.
Job 15:17. I will inform thee (comp. Job 13:17), listen to me, and that which I have seen will I relate.—זֶה is neuter, as in Gen. 6:15, or like הוּא above in Job 13:16, and זֶה־הָזִיתִי is a relative clause; comp. Ges. § 122 [§ 120], 2—חָזָה needs not (with Schlottm.) be understood in the sense of an ecstatic vision, of the prophetic sort, seeing that in Job 8:17; 23:9; 24:1; 27:12, etc., it denotes also the knowledge or experience of sensible things. Moreover, as Job 15:18 shows, Eliphaz makes a very definite distinction between that which is now to be communicated and a Divine revelation of whatever sort. [As Dillmann observes, that which is communicated by a direct revelation from God does not need to be supported by the wisdom of antiquity].
Job 15:18. That which wise men declare without concealment from their fathers.—This verse, which is an expression of the object of וַאֲסַפְּרָה, coördinate with זֶה־הָזִיתִי, is added without ו, because it is substantially identical with that which Eliphaz “had seen.” מֵאֲבוֹתָם belongs not to וְלֹא כִחֲרוּ (so the ancient versions, and Luther) but to the logically dominant verb יַגִּידוּ, which the וְלֹא כ׳ is subjoined as an adverbial qualification. “To declare and not to hide” is equivalent to a single notion, “to declare without deception,” precisely like John 1:20, ὁμολογεῖν καὶ οὐκ ἀγνε͂ισθαι.
Job 15:19. A more circumstantial description of אֲבוֹתָם:—To whom alone the land was given (to inhabit), and through the midst of whom no stranger had forced his way.—[Zöckler takes the verb עבר here not in the sense of a chance sojourning in a land, or traveling through it, but in the sense of a forcible intrusion, war gedrungen; a national amalgamation resulting from invasion. The language will include a foreign admixture from whatever source.—E.]. Seeing that הָאָרֶץ denotes here with much more probability “the land” rather than “the earth” (and so again in Job 22:8; 30:8), and that what is expressly spoken of is the non-intrusion of strangers (זָרִים), Sohlottmann’s view that the passage refers to the first patriarchs, “the nobler primitive generations of mankind,” who as yet inhabited the earth alone, is to be rejected. The reason why Eliphaz puts forward the purity of the generation of his forefathers as a guarantee of the soundness and credibility of their teachings is that “among ‘the sons of the East’ purity of race was from the earliest times considered as the sign of highest nobility” (Del.) [“The meaning is, ‘I will give you the result of the observations of the golden age of the world, when our fathers dwelt alone, and it could not be pretended that they had been corrupted by foreign philosophy; and when in morals and in sentiment they were pure.” Barnes. “Eliph.,” says Umbr., “speaks here like a genuine Arab.” The exclusiveness and dogmatic superciliousness which are to this day characteristic of Oriental nationalities are doubtless closely associated with the race-instinct which here finds expression. In proportion as a people, either from lack of courage, or from an effeminate love of luxury, or from a sordid love of gain prostrates itself to foreign influences, and carries the witness of its degradation in the impurity of its blood, it cannot, in the judgment of an oriental sage, produce, or transmit, pure and sound doctrine.—E.]. It is unnecessary herewith to assume that the age of Eliphaz, in contrast with the boasted age of the fathers, was a period of foreign domination, like the Assyrian-Chaldean period in the history of Israel (Ewald, Hirzell, Dillmann). Or granting that such a period is referred to—although we are under no necessity of understanding either זָר or עָבַר בְּתוֹכָם of warlike invasions—still nothing could be deduced from the passage in favor of the post-solomonic origin of our book: comp. on Job 12:24.
3. Second Division: An admonitory didactic discourse on the retributive justice of God as exhibited in the fate of the ungodly: Job 15:20–35. [“Now follows the doctrine of the wise men, which springs from a venerable primitive age, an age as yet undisturbed by any strange way of thinking (modern enlightenment and free thinking, as we should say), and is supported by Eliphaz’s own experience.” Delitzsch. “It is not so much the fact that the evil-doer receives his punishment, in favor of which Eliphaz appeals to the teaching handed down from the fathers, as rather the belief in it, consequently in a certain degree the dogma of a moral order in the world.” Wetzstein in Delitzsch].
First Strophe: Job 15:20–24. Description of the inward discontent and the restless pain of an earthly-minded and wicked man who defies God, and cares not for Him.
Job 15:20. So long as the wicked liveth, (lit., all the days of the wicked) he suffereth torment (מִתְחוֹלֵל, lit. he is writhing and twisting, viz., from pain), and so many years as are reserved for the oppressor [“which according to Job 15:32, are not very many,” Dillm.] (עָרִיץ, tyrant, one who commits outrageous violence, as in Job 27:13; 6:23; Ps. 37:35; Is. 13:11, etc.). The second member, in which מִסְפַּר שָׁנִים is an [adverbial] accusative clause, and נִצְפְּנוּ לֶעָרִיץ a relative clause depending upon it, resumes the temporal clause, “all the days of the wicked,” which for the sake of emphasis stands at the beginning of the entire sentence. The LXX. renders differently: ἕτη δὲ ἀριθμητὰ δεδομένα δυνάστῃ; and similarly Delitzsch: “and a fixed number of years is reserved for the oppressor,” a rendering however which gives a much flatter thought than our exposition. Against the rendering of the Targ., Pesh., and Vulg. [also E. V.] “and the number of years is hidden to the oppressor,” it may be urged that in that case the reading must have been מִן הֶעָרִיץ. [Not necessarily.—לְ is often used as a sign of the dativus commodi. or incommodi, where we should expect מִן.—E. g., Mic. 2:4אֵיךְ יָמִישׁ לִי, where the removal of the nation’s portion from it, is represented by the preposition לְ, because of the injurious consequences to it. So here the hiding of the number of the oppressor’s years from him is represented by לְ, because of the misery this causes to him. On the other hand it may be said in favor of this construction that it is much simpler and stronger, that it introduces an additional thought, such as the change of עריץ for רשׁע might lead us to expect (Del.), and that it is in entire harmony with the context. The central thought of the passage, the essential element of the oppressor’s misery is apprehension, anxiety, the premonition of his doom. How the darkness of this feature of the picture is deepened by this stroke—“the number of his years is laid up in darkness,” so that he knows not when, or whence, or how the blow will fall.—Furthermore the rendering “hidden” seems more suitable for נִצְפַּן than “reserved,” in the sense of “determined,” being more vivid, and more closely connected with the subjective character of the description. Even if we render it by “reserved,” the idea of “hidden” should be included.—E.].
Job 15:21 seq., describe more in detail the restless pain of soul, or the continual הִתְחוֹלֵל of the wicked. [It is doubtful whether the following description is to be limited to the evil-doer’s anxiety of spirit, or whether it includes the realization of his fears in the events of his life. On the whole Delitzsch decides, and apparently with reason, that as the real crisis is not introduced until further on, and is then fully described, the language in Job 15:21–24 is to be understood subjectively.—E.].
Job 15:21. Terrors (the plural פהדים only here) sound [lit.: the sound of terrors] in his ears; in (the midst of) peace the destroyers fall upon him; or, if we regard שׁוֹדֵר not as a collective, but as singular (comp. Job 12:6): “the destroyer falls upon him.” As to בּוֹא with the accus. in the sense of “coming upon any one,” comp. Job 20:22; Prov. 28:22.
Job 15:22. He despairs (lit., he trusts not, he dares not) of returning out of the darkness (viz., of his misfortune, see Job 15:25, 30), and he is marked out for the sword. צָפוּ, the same with צָפוּי (which form is given by the K’ri and many MSS.) Part. pass, of צפה, signifies literally, “watched, spied out,” which yields a perfectly good sense, and makes both the middle rendering of the Participle, (“anxiously looking out for the sword”—so the Pesh. and Vulg.) and Ewald’s emendation to צָפוּן, seem superfluous.
Job 15:23. He wanders about for bread: “Ah where?” [i. e., shall I find it]? The meaning is obvious: in the midst of super-abundance he, the greedy miser, is tortured by anxieties concerning his food—a thought which the LXX. [also Wemyss and Merx], misunderstanding the short emphatic interrogative אַיֵה, “where” [for which they read אַיָּה, “vulture”], have obscured, or rather entirely perverted by their singular translation: κατατέτακται δὲ εἰς σῖτα γυψιν: [“he wanders about for a prey for vultures,” Wem.]. With אַיֵּה comp. the similarly brief הִנֵּה in Job 9:19.—He knows that close by him [lit. as in E. V., “ready at his hand”], (בְּיָדוֹ, like עַל־יְדֵי Job 1:14לְיַד, “near, close by,” Ps. 140:6 (5); 1 Sam. 19:3) a dark day (lit. day of darkness; comp. Job 15:22) stands ready—to seize upon him and to punish him (נָכוֹן, as in Job 18:12).
Job 15:24. Trouble and anguish terrify him. צַר וּמְצוּקָה here not of external, but of internal need and distress, hence equivalent to anguish and alarm; comp. Job 7:11.—It overpowereth him (the subj. of תִּתְקְפֵהוּ is either מְצוּקָּה or, with a neuter construction, the unknown something, the mysterious Power [which suggests the comparison that follows]) as a king ready for the onset.—כְּמֶלֶךְ cannot belong to the object of the verb, as rendered by the LXX. [“like a leader falling in the first line of the battle”] and the Targ. [“to serve the conqueror as a foot-stool”], but only to the subject. The deadly anguish, which suddenly seizes on the wicked, is compared to a king, armed for battle, who falls upon a city; comp. Prov. 6:11.—The meaning of the Hapaxleg. כִּידוֹר (= כִּדּוֹר, Ew., § 156, b) is correctly given on the whole by the Pesh. and Vulg., although not quite exactly by proelium. The Rabbis, Böttch., Del., etc., render it better by “the round of conflict, the circling of an army” [“the conflict which moves round about, like tumult of battle,” Del.]; but Dillmann best of all, after the Arabic כדר by “onset, storming, rush of battle;” for this is the only meaning that is well suited to עתיד לְ, paratus ad, as well as to the principal subject מֶלֶךְ.
Second Strophe: Job 15:25–30. The cause of the irretrievable destruction of the wicked is his presumptuous opposition to God, and his immoderate greed after earthly possessions and enjoyments. The whole strophe forms a long period, consisting of a doubled antecedent (marked by the double use of כִּי, Job 15:25 and Job 15:27), and a consequent, Job 15:29, 30.
Job 15:25. Because he has stretched out his hand against God (in order to contend with Him), and boasted himself against the Almighty. [As indicated in the introductory remark above, כִּי at the beginning is not “for” (E. V.), introducing a reason for what precedes, but “because,” the consequent of which is not given until Job 15:29 seq.] יִתְגַּבֵּר, lit. “to show oneself a hero, a strongman;” i. e., to be proud, insolent; comp. Job 36:9; Is. 42:13.
Job 15:26 continues the first of the two antecedents, so that יָרוּץ is still under the regimen of כּי in Job 15:25 … has run against Him with (erect) neck (comp. Job 16:14) with the thick bosses (lit. with the thickness of the bosses, comp. Ewald, § 293, c) of his shields. In a the proud sinner is represented as a single antagonist of God, who בְּצַוָּאר, i. e., erecto colle, (comp. Ps. 75:6 ) rushes upon Him; in b he is become a whole army with weapons of offense and defense, by virtue of his being the leader of such an army.
Job 15:27. Introducing the second reason [for Job 15:29 seq.]. consisting in the insatiable greed of the wicked—Because he has covered his face with his fatness (comp. Ps. 73:4–7), and gathered (עָשָׂה here in the sense of a natural production or putting forth, as in Job 14:9) fat upon his loins.
Job 15:28. And abode in desolated cities, houses which ought not to be inhabited, לֹא יֵשְׁבוּ לָמוֹ, lit. “which they ought not to inhabit for themselves;” the passive rendering of ישׁב [Gesen., Del.] is unnecessary, the meaning of the expression in any case being, (domus nonhabitandæ) which are destined for ruins.—We are to think of an insolent, sacrilegious, mocking, avaricious tyrant, who fixes his residence—whether it be his pleasure-house, or his fortified castle—in what is and should remain according to popular superstition, an accursed and solitary place, among the ruins, it may be, of an accursed city; Deut. 13:13–19; comp. Josh. 6:26; 1 Kings 16:34; also what is reported by Wetzstein (in Delitzsch I. 267 n.) concerning such doomed cities among modern orientals.1 Hirzel altogether too exclusively takes the reference to be to a city cursed in accordance with the law in Deut. (l. c.)—against which Löwenthal and Delitzsch observe quite correctly that what is spoken of here is not the rebuilding forbidden in that law, but only the inhabiting of such ruins. Possibly the poet may have had in mind certain particular occurrences, views, or customs, of which we have no further knowledge. Perhaps we may even suppose some such widely-spread superstition as that of the Romans in relation to the bidentalia to be intended. [Noyes, Barnes, Renan, Rod well, etc., introduce Job 15:28 with “therefore,” making it the consequence of what goes before.—Because of his pride and self-indulgence, the sinner will be driven out to dwell among ruins and desolations. To this view there are the following objections. (1) It deprives the language of the terrible force which belongs to it according to the interpretation given above. (2) It leaves the description of the sin referred to in Job 15:27 singularly incomplete and weak. This would be especially noticeable after the climactic energy of the description of the sin previously referred to in Job 15:25, 26. Having seen the thought in Job 15:25 carried to such a striking climax in Job 15:26, we naturally expect to find the thought suggested rather than expressed in Job 15:27 carried to a similar climax in Job 15:28. (3) After dooming the sinner to dwell an exile among “stone-heaps,” (גַּלּים), it seems a little flat to add, “he shall not be rich,” if the former circumstance, like the latter, is a part of the penalty.—E.].
Job 15:29, 30. The apodosis: (Therefore) he does not become rich (Hos. 12:9 ), and his wealth endures not (has no stability, comp. 1 Sam. 13:14), and their possessions (i. e., the possessions of such people) how not down to the earth.—This rendering is in accordance with the interpretation now prevalent of מִנְלֶה = מִנְלָם, (with the suffix ־ָם) from a root (which is not to be met with) נלה, = Arab, nal, “to attain, to acquire,” and so used in the sense of quæstum, lucrum (comp. the post-biblical מָמוֹן, μαμωνᾶς). A possession “bowing down to the earth” is e. g. a full-eared field of grain, a fruit-laden tree, a load of grain weighing down that in which it is borne, etc. In view of the fact that all the ancient versions present other readings than מִנְלָם—e. g., LXX.: צִלָּם [adopted by Merx]; Vulg. אצלם, radicem suam: Pesh. מִלִּים, words; Targ. מִנְּהוֹן, etc.—the attempts of several moderns to amend the text may to some extent be justified. Not one of these however, yields a result that is altogether satisfactory, neither Hupfeld’s מִכְלָה (non extendet in terra caulam), nor Olshausen’s מַגָּלָם (“their sickle does not sink to the earth”), nor Böttcher’s מִמְלָם (“their fullness”), nor Dillmann’s וְלֹא יִטֶּה לָאָרֶץ שִׁבֳּלִים, “and he does not bow down ears of corn to the earth.” [Carey suggests that there may be a transposition here, and that instead of מנלם we should read נמלם from root נמל “to out;” the translation then being: “neither shall the cutting (or offset) of such extend in the earth.” The verbal root נלה found only in Isa. 33:1 (כַּנְּלֹתְךָ, Hiph. Inf. with Dagh. dirimens for כְּהַנְלֹתְךָ) seems to signify perficere, to finish; hence E. V. here renders the noun “perfection.” Bernard likewise “accomplishment, achievements.” For נטה the meaning “to spread, extend,” is preferred by Good, Lee, Noyes, Umbreit, Renan, Con., Rod-well, etc. (E. V., “prolong”). The preposition ל however suits better the definition “to bow down,” which on the whole is to be preferred.—E.]
Job 15:30. He does not escape out of the darkness (of calamity, ver 22); a fiery heat [lit. a flame] withereth his shoots, and be passes away (וֳיסוּר forming a paronomasia with the לֹא יָסוּר of the first member) by the blast of His [God’s] mouth; comp. Job 4:9. In the second member the figure of a plant, so frequent throughout our book, previously used also by Eliphaz (comp. Job 5:3, 25 seq.) [and already suggested here according to the above interpretation of 29b], again makes its appearance, being used in a way very similar to Job 8:16 seq.; comp. also oh. 14:7. The parching heat here spoken of may be either that of the sun, or of a hot wind (as in Gen. 41:6; Ps. 11:6).
Third Strophe: Job 15:31–35. Describing more in detail the end of the wicked, showing that his prosperity is fleeting, and only in appearance, and that its destruction is inevitable.
Job 15:31. Let him not trust in vanity—he is deceived (נִתְעַת, Niph. Perf. with reflexive sense: lit. he has deceived himself) [Renan: Insensé!] for vanity shall be his possession [תמורה; Ges., Fürst., Con., etc., like E. V. “recompense:” Delitzsch: “not compensatio,” but permutatio, acquisitio; and so Ewald and Zöckler—Eintausch, exchange]. שָׁוְא, written the first time שָׁו, is used here essentially in the same sense as in Job 7:3, and hence = delusion, vanity, evil. In the first instance the sense of emptiness, deception predominates, in the second that of calamity (the evil consequences of trusting in vanity). For the sentiment comp. Job 4:8; Hos. 8:8; and the New Testament passages which speak of sowing and reaping; Gal. 6:7 seq.; 2 Cor. 9:6.
Job 15:32. While his day is not yet (lit. “in his not-day,” i.e., before his appointed time has yet run its course; comp. Job 10:22; 12:24), it is fulfilled, viz., the evil that is to be exchanged, it passes to its fulfillment; or also: the exchange fulfills itself, תִּמָּלֵא referring back immediately to תּמוּרָתוֹ, Job 15:31,—so Hirzel, Dillmann. And his palm-branch (כִּבָּה as in Isa. 9:13; 19:15) is no longer green, is dry, withered. The whole man is here represented as a palm-tree, but not green and flourishing, as in Ps. 92:13 (12), but as decaying with dried up branches—by which branches we are not to understand particularly his children, especially seeing that only one is mentioned instead of several.
Job 15:33. He loses [or shakes off] like a vine his grapes (lit., his unripe grapes; בֶּסֶר or בֹסֶר = ὄμφαξ, late or unripe grape; comp. Isa. 18:5; Jer. 31:29; Ezek. 18:2) and casts down, like an olive, his blossoms, i.e., without seeing fruit, this, as is well-known, being the case with the olive every other year, for only in each second year does it bear olives in anything like abundance; comp. Wetzstein in Delitzsch [I. 272 n. “In order to appreciate the point of the comparison, it is needful to know that the Syrian olive-tree bears fruit plentifully the first, third, and fifth years, but rests during the second, fourth, and sixth. It blossoms in these years also, but the blossoms fall off almost entirely without any berries being formed.” Add the following from Thomson’s Land and the Book: “The olive is the most prodigal of all fruit-bearing trees in flowers. It literally bends under the load of them. But then not one in a hundred comes to maturity. The tree casts them off by millions, as if they were of no more value than flakes of snow, which they closely resemble. So it will be with those who put their trust in vanity. Cast off they melt away, and no one takes the trouble to ask after such empty, useless things, etc.” I. 72], The verb יַחְמֹם in a is variously rendered by commentators; e. g., “broken [man bricht, יח׳ impersonal] as from a vine are his unripe grapes,” Schlott.; or “He (God) tears off as of a vine his young grapes” (Del., Hahn); or: “he (the wicked) wrongs as a vine his unripe grapes” (Hupfeld). The rendering given above (Ewald, Hirzel, Dillmann) [E. V., Con., Noy., Carey, Ren., Rod.], etc.), is favored by the parallelism of the second member, which shows that the “injuring, damaging” (חָמַם as in Lam. 2:6; Prov. 8:36, etc.), proceeds from the wicked himself. A reference to the process of cutting off the sour grape for the manufacture of vinegar (Wetzstein, Delitzsch) is altogether too remote here.—In regard to the variety of figures here derived from the vegetable kingdom, comp. further Ps. 92:13 (12) seq.; Hos. 14:6 seq.; Sir. 24; and in general my Theol. Naturalis, p. 218 seq.
Job 15:34. For the company of the profligate is barren.—חָנֵף as in Job 8:13; 13:16גַּלְמוּד (Job 3:7) is here and in Job 30:3 used as a substant. in the sense of “stark death” (LXX.: θάνατος), barrenness, hard rock, comp. Matth. 13:5; and עֵדָה signifies here not indeed specially the family, as in Job 16:7, but still the family circle, the kinsfolk, tribe, or clan.—And fire devours the tents of bribery:i.e., the fire of the Divine sentence (comp. Job 1:16) consumes the tents built up by bribery, or the tents of those who take bribes (οἴκους δωροδεκτῶν, LXX.).
Job 15:35. They (the profligate, for חָנֵף in Job 15:34 was collective) conceive (are pregnant with) misery, and bring forth calamity.—אָוֶן and עָמָל, synonyms, as in Job 4:8; comp. the parallel passages Ps. 7:15 (14); Isa. 33:11; 59:4. The Infinitives absolute in a, which are put first for emphasis, are followed in b by the finite verb: and their body prepares deceit, i.e., their pregnant womb (not their “inward part,” as Del. renders it) matures deceit, ripens falsehood, viz., for themselves; comp. Job 15:31. For הֵכִין, to prepare, to adjust, comp. Job 27:17; 38:41; for מִרְמָה, “deception,” Gen. 27:35; 34:13; Mic. 6:11; Prov. 11:1, etc.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. Job’s persistence in holding what the friends assume to be a delusion, and especially in maintaining an attitude of presumptuous defiance towards God, compels them to enter on a new circle of the discussion with him. This is opened by Eliphaz in the new arraignment of Job before us. In respect of doctrinal contents this discourse exhibits little or nothing that is new, as indeed is the case generally with what the friends produce from this point on. It revolves, as well as that which Bildad and Zophar say in the sequel, altogether about the old thesis, that Job’s sufferings have a penal significance. The speakers assume that to have been sufficiently demonstrated by what they have said before, and accordingly do not undertake to prove it further to him, but being themselves unqualifiedly right, they imagine that they have only to warn and threaten and upbraid him in a tone of the harshest reproof. The fact that Job had spoken excitedly, daringly, and inconsiderately against God, is, to their minds, transparent proof, which needs no further confirmation, of the correctness of their coarse syllogism: “All suffering is the penalty of sin; Job suffers severely; therefore, Job is a great sinner.” And so assuming him to be impenitent, and hardened in presumption, they break out all the more violently against him, with the purpose not of instructing him more thoroughly, but of more sharply blaming and chastising him. The consequence is that these later discourses of the friends become more and more meagre in their doctrinal and ethical contents, and abound more and more in controversial sharpness and polemic bitterness. They give evidence of a temper which has been aroused to more aggressive vehemence towards Job, aiming at his conversion as one laboring under a delusion, and, at the same time, of increasing monotonousness and unproductiveness in the development of their peculiar views, their fundamental dogma remaining substantially unchanged throughout.
2. Of these arraignments belonging to the second act (or stage) of the discussion, and having as just stated a polemic far more than a doctrinal significance, the preceding discourse by Eliphaz is the first, and, at the same time, the fullest in matter, and the most original. Its fundamental proposition (Job 15:14, 15) is indeed nothing else than a repetition of that which the same speaker had previously propounded to Job as truth received by him through a divine revelation (Job 4:12 seq.). Here, however, by the parallel juxtaposition of “the heavens” with “the angels,” there is introduced into the description an element which is, in part at least, new, and not uninteresting (comp. the exegetical remarks on Job 15:15). The application of the thesis to Job’s case is thereby made much more direct, wounding him much more sharply and relentlessly than before, as Job 15:16 shows, where the harsh, “hideous” (Oetinger) description which El. gives of the corruption of the natural man, is unmistakably aimed at Job himself, as the genuine example of a hardened sinner. It will be seen from the extract from Seb. Schmidt in the homiletical remarks (see on Job 15:2 seq.) how the harshness of the charges preferred against Job in the first division (especially in Job 15:2–13) reaches the extreme point of merciless severity, and how, along with some censures which are certainly merited (as, e.g., that he braves God, speaks proud words, despises mild words of comfort and admonition, etc.) there is much thrown in that is unjust and untrue, especially the charge that he “chose the speech of the crafty,” and hence that he dealt in the deceitful subtleties and falsehoods of an advocate. The discourse, however, presents much that is better, that is objectively more true and valuable, and more creditable to the speaker. Here we must reckon the whole of the second division (Job 15:20–35). Here we have a picture indisputably rich in poetic beauties, and in powerful and impressive passages, harmoniously complete in itself withal, and easily detached from its surroundings,—the picture of a wicked man, inwardly tormented by the pangs of an evil conscience, who after that he has for a long time enjoyed his apparent prosperity, at last succumbs to the combined power of the torments within, and of God’s sentence without, and so comes to a horrible end. This passage—which reminds us of similar striking descriptions elsewhere of the foolish conduct of the ungodly and its merited retribution (as, e.g., Ps. 1; 35; 52; Prov. 1:18 seq.; 4:14 seq.; 5:1 seq.)—forms an interesting counterpart to the magnificent picture of the prosperity of the penitent and righteous man with which the first discourse of Eliphaz closes (Job 5:17–27). The contrast between the two descriptions, which are related to each other like the serene, bright and laughing day and the gloomy night, is in many respects suggestive and noteworthy; but it is not to the speaker’s advantage. In the former case, in painting that bright picture, he may be viewed as a prophet, unconsciously predicting that which was at last actually to come to pass according to God’s decree. But here, in painting this gloomy night-scene, which is purposely designed as a mirror by the contemplation of which Job might be alarmed, this tendency to prophesy evil shows him to be decidedly entangled in error. Indeed the point where this warning culminates, to wit, the charge of self-deception and of hypocritical lying, which having been first introduced in Job 15:5 seq., is repeated in the criminating word—מִרְמָה—at the close (Job 15:35), involves in itself gross injustice, and is an abortive attack which recoils on the accuser himself with destructive effect, besides depriving the whole description of its full moral value, and even detracting from its poetic beauty.
3. None the less, however, does the Sage of Teman, even when in error, remain a teacher of real wisdom, who has at his disposal genuine Chokmah material, however he may pervert its application in detail. This same gloomy picture with which the discourse before us closes, although it fails as to its special occasion and tendency, contains much that is worth pondering. It is brilliantly distinguished by rare truth of nature and conformity to experience in its descriptions, whether it treats of the inward torment and distress of conscience of the wicked (Job 15:20 seq.), or of the cheerless and desperate issue of his life (Job 15:29 seq.),—the latter description being particularly remarkable for the profound truth and the beauty of the figures introduced with such effective variety from the vegetable kingdom (see on Job 15:33). But even in the first division there is not a little that is interesting and stimulating to profound reflection. This is especially true of Job 15:7 seq., with its censure of Job’s conceit of superiority on the ground of his wisdom—a passage the significance of which is attested both by the recurrence of one of its characteristic turns of expression (Job 15:2) in the Solomonic Book of Proverbs, and of another in Jehovah’s address to Job (Job 38:3 seq.).
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
Job 15:2 seq.: SEB. SCHMIDT: He brings against Job the grave accusation of swelling up, as it were with the conceit of too great wisdom, and hence of sinning in more ways than one; thus he would convict him: (1) of vanity; (2) of causing scandal, and of encouraging men to neglect the fear of God—nay more, to fall into atheism; (3) of presumption, or of the conceit of too great wisdom; (4) of contempt for the word of God; (5) of proud anger against God.—WOHLFARTH: The reproaches which we bring against others are often only witnesses to our own guilt!
Job 15:7 seq.: COCCEIUS: He addresses Job here almost in the same terms as God in Job 38 but with another scope and purpose. Wisdom says in Prov. 8:25, that it was begotten before the hills, i.e. that it is the eternal Son of God. This Wisdom alone was acquainted with all the mysteries of God the Father, to this Wisdom alone are owing the purification and justification of men, the full declaration of the gracious will of God, and the gift of the spirit of joy.
Job 15:14–16: BRENTIUS: These words are most true: no one in himself is clean, pure and just; but in God, through faith in Christ, we come into possession of all cleanness, purity and justification (John 15:3; Rom. 15:1, etc.).—MERCIER: Eliphaz finds fault with man’s nature which nevertheless by faith is made pure.—ZEYSS: Although the holy angels are pure and holy spirits, neither their holiness nor that of man is to be compared with the infinitely perfect holiness of God, but God only is and remains the Most Holy One; Is. 6:3.—OECOLAMPADIUS (on Job 15:16): Here is beautifully described the misery of man, who is abominable by reason of innate depravity, a child of wrath, corrupted and degenerated from his first estate, and so inflamed with lust, that as one in the dropsy drinks water, so does he drink sin, and is never satisfied.
Job 15:20 seq.: IDEM: This is what he would say, that the wicked man, having an evil conscience within himself, at every time of his life when he becomes better known to himself, trembles, carries with him his own torments, and never hopes for good. Moses has finely illustrated this in Cain, Gen. 4—CRAMER: The ungodly and hypocrites live in continual restlessness of heart; but blessed are they whose sins are forgiven; they attain rest and peace of conscience.—Comp. Prov. 27:1: “The wicked flee when no man pursueth, but the righteous are bold as a lion.”
Job 15:29 seq.: BRENTIUS: Eliphaz proceeds with his recital of the catalogue of curses on the wicked. … “His seed will burn up,” i.e. the blessing of the wicked will be turned into a curse; and as the branches of trees are burned by fire, and scattered by the wind, which is called the Spirit [breath] of God, so do all the blessings of the wicked perish by the judgment of God, and the Spirit of His mouth.—CRAMER: The dire punishments which befall the ungodly give courage to the pious, and strengthen their faith, when they see how the former are recompensed for their ungodliness (Ps. 91:8). … Although the ungodly have many friends and many dependents, their name must nevertheless rot and perish (Prov. 10:7; Esth. 6:13)—ZEYSS (on Job 15:31–33): As the sowing, so the reaping. He who sows vanity will also reap vanity; calamity and destruction will happen to him for a recompense (Hos. 8:7; Gal. 6:8). When the ungodly think that their life is at its very best, they are often enough quite suddenly taken away (Luke 12:17).
“As no one Ventures to pronounce the name of Satan because God has cursed him (Gen. 3:14), without adding ’alah el-la’ne. ‘God’s curse upon him!’ so a man may not presume to inhabit places which God has appointed to desolation. Such villages and cities, which, according to tradition have perished and been frequently overthrown by the visitation of Divine judgment, are not uncommon on the borders of the desert. They use places, it is said, where the primary commandments of the religion of Abraham (Dîn Ibrahim) have been impiously transgressed. Thus the city of Babylon will never be colonized by a Semitic tribe, because they hold the belief that it has been destroyed on account of Nimrod’s apostasy from God, and his hostility to His favored one Abraham. The tradition which has even been transferred by the tribes of Arabia Petræa into Islamism of the disolation of the city of Higr (or Medain Salih) on account of disobedience to God, prevents any one from dwelling in that remarkable city, which consists of thousands of dwellings cut in the rock, some of which are richly ornamented; without looking round, and muttering prayers, the desert ranger hurries through, even as does the great procession of pilgrims to Mekka, from fear of incurring the punishment of God by the slightest delay in the accursed city.”
Then answered Eliphaz the Temanite, and said,