Matthew Poole's Commentary
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.Job's country, and sincere holiness: his children; their feasts; and his religious care for them, Job 1:1-5. Satan's appearance before God: God's character of Job, Job 1:6-8. Satan imputeth Job's goodness to his prosperity; and so obtaineth leave to afflict him in his goods, Job 1:9-12. Job's oxen, sheep, camels, and servants destroyed, Job 1:13-17. His sons and daughters perish, Job 1:18,19. Job, with his mantle rent, head shaved, and upon the ground, worshippeth; blesseth God; sinneth not, Job 1:20-22.
The land of Uz was either in Edom, called the land of Uz, Lam 4:21, or in some part of Arabia, not far from the Chaldeans and Sabeans, as this chapter witnesseth; so called probably from Uz, one of Esau's posterity, Gen 36:28 Jer 25:20.
That man was perfect; not legally or exactly, as he confesseth, Job 9:20; but comparatively to such as were partial in their obedience to God's commands, and as to his sincere intentions, hearty affections, and constant and diligent endeavours to perform all his duties to God and men.
Upright, Heb. right; exact and regular in all his dealings with men; one of an unblamable conversation, doing to others as he would have others to deal with him.
One that feared God; one truly pious, and devoted to God's worship and service.
Eschewed evil, i.e. carefully avoiding all sin against God or men.
And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters.No text from Poole on this verse.
His 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 of the east.Camels in these parts were very numerous, as is manifest from Judges 7:12 1 Chronicles 5:21, and from the plain testimonies of Aristotle and Pliny, and very useful, and proper both for carrying of burdens in these hot and dry countries, as being able to endure thirst much better than other creatures, and for service in war.
She-asses were preferred before he-asses, as serving for the same uses as they did, and for breeding and milk also; but he-asses also may be included in this expression, which is of the feminine gender, because the greatest part of them (from which the denomination is usually taken) were she-asses.
The greatest, i.e. one of the richest.
Of all the men of the east, to wit, that lived in those parts; such general expressions being commonly understood with such limitations.
And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them.His sons went and feasted, to testify and maintain their brotherly love.
Every one his day; not every day of the week and of the year; which would have been burdensome and tedious to them all, and gross luxury and epicurism, which holy Job would not have permitted; but each his appointed day, whether his birthday, or the first day of the month, or any other set time, it matters not.
And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, 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 God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.When the days of their feasting were gone about; when each of them had had his turn, which peradventure came speedily, though not immediately one after another; and there was some considerable interval before their next feasting time.
Job sent and sanctified them, i.e. he exhorted and commanded them to sanctify themselves for the following work, to wit, by purifying themselves from all ceremonial and moral pollution, as the manner then was, Exodus 19:10, and by preparing themselves by true repentance for all their sins, and particularly such as they had committed in their time of feasting and jollity, and by fervent prayers to make their peace with God by sacrifice.
Rose up early in the morning; thereby showing his ardent zeal in God’s service, and his impatience till God was reconciled to him and to his children.
It may be that my sons have sinned: his zeal for God’s glory, and his true love to his children, made him jealous; for which he had cause enough from the corruption of man’s nature, the frailty and folly of youth, the many temptations which attend upon feasting and jollity, and the easiness of sliding from lawful to forbidden delights.
And cursed God; not in the grossest manner and highest degree, which it is not probable either that they should do, now especially when they had no provocation to do it, as being surrounded with blessings and comforts which they were actually enjoying, and not yet exercised with any affliction, or that Job should suspect it concerning them; but despised and dishonoured God; for both Hebrew and Greek words signifying cursing, are sometimes used to note only reviling, or detracting, or speaking evil, or setting light by a person. Thus what is called cursing one’s father or mother, Exodus 21:17, is elsewhere called setting light by them, as Deu 27:16 Ezekiel 22:7. See also 2 Peter 2:10 Judges 1:8, and many other places.
In their hearts; by slight and low thoughts of God, by neglecting or forgetting to give God the praise and glory of the mercies which by his favour they enjoyed, by taking more hearty delight in their feasts and jollity than in the service and fruition of God; for these and such-like distempers of heart are most usual in times of prosperity and jollity, as appears by common experience, and by the many Divine cautions we have against them, as Deu 6:11,12 Ho 2:8, and elsewhere. And these miscarriages, though inward and secret, Job calls by such a hard name as usually signifies cursing, by way of aggravation of their sin, which peradventure they were too apt to slight as a small and trivial miscarriage.
This did Job continually, i.e. it was his constant course at the end of every feasting time.
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.There was a day, i.e. a certain time appointed by God.
The sons of God, i.e. the holy angels, so called Job 38:7 Daniel 3:25,28, because of their creation by God, as Adam also was, Luke 3:38, and for their great resemblance of him in power, and dignity, and holiness, and for their filial affection and obedience to him.
Before the Lord, i.e. before his throne, to receive his commands, and to give him an account of their negotiations. Compare 1 Kings 22:19 Zechariah 4:14 Luke 1:19. But you must not think that these things were really done, and that Satan was mixed with the holy angels, or admitted into the presence of God in heaven, to maintain such discourses as this with the blessed God, or that he had formal commission and leave to do what follows; but it is only a parabolical representation of that great truth, that God by his wise and holy providence doth govern all the actions of men and devils to his own ends; it being usual with the great God to condescend to our shallow capacities, and to express himself, as the Jews phrase it, in the language of the sons of men, i.e. in such manner as men use to speak and may understand.
Satan came also among them; being forced to come, and give up his account.
And 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.God being here represented as Judge, rightly begins with an inquiry, as the ground of his further proceedings, as he did Genesis 3:9 4:9.
From going to and fro in the earth; where by thy permission I range about, observing with great diligence all the dispositions and actions of men, and working in them and among them as far as I have liberty and opportunity.
And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?Hast thou taken notice of him, and his spirit and carriage? and what hast thou to say against him?
Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?i.e. Sincerely and freely, and out of pure love and respect to thee? No. It is policy, not piety, that makes him good; he doth not serve thee, but serveth himself of thee, and is a mere mercenary, serving thee for his own ends.
Hast not thou 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 in the land.Made a hedge about him, i.e. defended him by thy special care and providence from all harms and inconveniencies; which is able to oblige and win persons of the worst tempers.
His house; his children and servants.
But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.Put forth thine hand, to wit, in way of justice and severity, as that phrase is used, Isaiah 5:25 Ezekiel 25:7,13,16.
Touch, i.e. afflict or destroy, as this word is used, Genesis 26:11 Ruth 2:9 Psalm 105:15 Zechariah 2:8.
He will curse thee to thy face; he who is now so forward to serve and bless thee, will then openly and boldly blaspheme thy name, and reproach thy providence, as unjust and unmerciful to him.
And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.All that he hath is in thy power; I give thee full power and liberty to deal with his wife, children, servants, and all his estate, whatsoever thy wit or malice shall prompt thee to do.
Upon himself; his person, body or soul.
From the presence of the Lord, i.e. from that place where God was represented as specially present, being forward and greedy to do the mischief which he had permission to do.
And there was a day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house:No text from Poole on this verse.
And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them:i.e. Beside the oxen, therefore both were taken away together.
And the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.The Sabeans; a people of Arabia, who led a wandering life, and lived by robbery and spoiling of others, as Strabo and other heathen writers note.
I only am escaped alone to tell thee; whom Satan spared no less maliciously than he destroyed the rest, that Job might have speedy and certain intelligence of his calamity.
While 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.While he was yet speaking; before he could have time to compose his disturbed mind, and to digest his former loss, or indeed to swallow his spittle, as he expresseth it, Job 7:19.
The fire of God; a terrible flame of fire sent from God in an extraordinary manner, to intimate that both God and men were his enemies, and all things conspired to his ruin.
Is fallen from heaven, i.e. from the air, which is oft called heaven, as hath been noted again and again, whereof Satan is the prince, Ephesians 2:2.
While 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.The Chaldeans, who also lived upon the spoil, as Xenophon and others observe.
Made out three bands, that they might come upon them several ways, and nothing might be able to escape them.
While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house:i.e. Feasting after their manner, and, as Job generally feared and suspected, sinning against God, Job 1:5, which was a dreadful aggravation of the judgment.
And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.From the wilderness; whence the fiercest winds came, as having most power in such open places. See Jeremiah 4:11 13:24.
Smote the four corners; in which the chief strength of the house did consist. It smote these either all together, or rather successively, one immediately after another, being possibly a whirlwind, which comes violently and suddenly, whirling about in a circle, and being driven about by the power of the devil, which is very great.
The young men; his sons in their youth, and his daughters also, as appears from the sequel.
Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,Then Job arose from his seat, whereon he was sitting in a disconsolate posture.
Rent his mantle, to testify his deep sense of and just sorrow for the heavy hand of God upon him, and his humiliation of himself under his hand. See Genesis 37:34. Shaved his head, i.e. caused the hair of his head to be shaved or cut off, which was then a usual ceremony in mourning, of which see Ezra 9:3 Isaiah 15:2 22:12 Jeremiah 7:29 41:5 Micah 1:16.
Fell down upon the ground, in way of self-abhorrency, and humiliation, and supplication unto God.
And worshipped, to wit, God, who is expressed in the following verse, and who is the only object of religious worship. Instead of cursing God, which Satan said he would do, he adored him, and gave him the glory of his sovereignty, and of his justice, and of his goodness also, in this most severe dispensation.
And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.I brought none of these things which I have now lost with me, when I came out of my mother’s womb into the world but I received them from the hand and favour of that God who hath now required his own again. I still have all that substance wherewith I was born, and have lost only things without and beside myself.
Naked shall I return thither; I shall be as rich when I die as I was when I was born, and therefore have reason to be contented with my condition, which also is the common lot of all men.
Thither, i.e. into my mother’s womb, which in the former clause is understood properly, but in this figuratively, of the earth, which is our common mother, as it is called by many authors, out of whose belly we were taken, and into which we must return again, Genesis 3:19 Ecclesiastes 12:7. And as our mother’s womb is called
the lower parts of the earth, Psalm 139:15, so it is not harsh if reciprocally the lower parts of the earth be called our mother’s womb. Nor is it strange that the same phrase should be taken both properly and metaphorically in the same verse; for so it is Matthew 8:22, let the dead spiritually bury the dead corporally. See also Leviticus 26:21,24 Psa 18:26, &c.
The Lord hath taken away; he hath taken away nothing but his own, and what he so gave to me that he reserved the supreme dominion and disposal of in his own hand. So I have no cause to murmur or complain of him. Nor have I reason to fret and rage against the Chaldeans, and Sabeans, and other creatures, who were only God’s instruments to execute his wise and holy counsel.
The name of the Lord, i.e. the Lord; God’s name being often put for God himself, as Psalm 44:5 48:10 Psalm 72:18,19 Da 2:19,20; as names are put for men, Acts 1:15 Revelation 3:4. The sense is, I have no cause to quarrel with God, but much cause to bless and praise him that he did give me such blessings, and suffered me to enjoy them more and longer than I deserved; and that he hath vouchsafed to afflict me, which I greatly needed for my soul’s good, and which I take as a token of his love and faithfulness to me, and therefore ministering more matter of comfort than grief to me; and that he hath left me the comfort of my wife, and yet is pleased to continue to me the health of my body, and a composed mind, and a heart to submit to his good pleasure; and that he hath reserved and prepared such a felicity for me, whom no Chaldeans or Sabeans, no men nor devils, can take away from me; of which see Job 19:25.
In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.i.e. Under all these pressures; or, in all that he said or did upon these sad occasions;
Job sinned not, to wit, in such manner as the devil presaged that he would, and as is expressed in the following words. As Christ saith, John 9:3, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents, to wit, so as you imagine, in an eminent or extraordinary degree. But both here and there human infirmities are excepted, of which Job oft acknowledgeth himself to be guilty. Nor was the question between God and Satan, whether Job had any sin in him, but whether he was a hypocrite, or would blaspheme God; which is here denied and disproved.
Nor charged God foolishly, Heb.
nor imputed folly to God, i.e. so far was he from blaspheming God, that he did not entertain any dishonourable thought of God, as if he had done any thing unworthy of his infinite wisdom, or justice, or goodness, but heartily approved of and acquiesced in his good pleasure, and in his righteous, though sharp, proceedings against him.