Matthew Poole's Commentary
Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said,Eliphaz’s answer: man’s righteousness profiteth not God; nor can God fear man, Job 22:1-4. He chargeth Job’s misery on his sins, Job 22:5-11; which God beheld, and knew, nor could they be hid from him, Job 22:12-14. The wicked, and their misery, Job 22:15-17. If they prospered, he would not hold with them; but their destruction the righteous should laugh at, Job 22:18-20. He exhorteth Job to know God and his law, and return to him: he should grow rich: God shall be his defence, his joy and confidence, Job 22:21-26. If he would pray, God would hear; and his desire and purpose should stand, Job 22:27-30.
No text from Poole on this verse.
Can a man be profitable unto God, as he that is wise may be profitable unto himself?Be profitable unto God, i.e. add any thing to his perfection or felicity, to wit, by his righteousness, as the next verse shows. Why then dost thou insist so much upon thy own righteousness, as if thou didst oblige God by it, or as if he could not without injury afflict thee? who supposest thyself to be a righteous person, though indeed thou art not so, as he saith, Job 22:5,6, &c.; but if thou wert really so, God is not thy debtor for it.
As; or, because; or, but; or, yea rather: so this latter clause is to be read without an interrogation, and the former with it.
He that is wise may be profitable to himself: a wise or good man (for these in Scripture use are one and the same) doth much good to himself; he promotes his own peace, and honour, and happiness by his goodness; and having so great a reward for his virtue, God is not indebted to him, but he is indebted to God for it.
Is it any pleasure to the Almighty, that thou art righteous? or is it gain to him, that thou makest thy ways perfect?Any pleasure, i.e. such a pleasure as he needs for his own ease and contentment, without which he could not be happy, as appears by the foregoing and following words; for otherwise God is oft said to delight in the good actions of his people, to wit, so far as to approve and accept them.
That thou makest thy ways perfect; that thy life is free from blemish, as thou pretendest, but falsely, as I shall show.
Will he reprove thee for fear of thee? will he enter with thee into judgment?Will, or doth, or
would he reprove thee, i.e. punish thee? For this word is frequently used of real rebukes or chastisements, as hath been oft noted.
For fear of thee; because he is afraid, lest if he should let thee alone, thou wouldst grow too great and powerful for him, as princes ofttimes crush those subjects of whom they are afraid. Surely no. As thy righteousness cannot profit him, so thy wickedness can do him no hurt. Or, for thy piety or religion, which is commonly called by the name of fear. Doth he punish thee because thou fearest and servest him, as thou dost insinuate? No surely, but for thy sins, as it follows.
Will he enter with thee into judgment, and condemn thee? to wit, for the reason last mentioned, as appears from the Hebrew text, where the words lie thus, Will he for fear of thee
reprove thee, or
enter with thee into judgment?
Is not thy wickedness great? and thine iniquities infinite?Thy great sins are the true and only causes of thy misery. The words may very well be rendered thus, Is not thy evil (i.e. thy punishment or affliction, which is frequently expressed by this very word) great, because (the particle and being oft used causally, as it is Genesis 18:13 22:12 24:56 Isaiah 34:1 64:5)
thine iniquities are infinite? Are not thy calamities procured by and proportionable to thy sins? Thy own conscience tells thee they are so. And therefore thou hast no reason to accuse God, nor any person but thyself.
For thou hast taken a pledge from thy brother for nought, and stripped the naked of their clothing.For thou hast taken, or, surely thou hast taken. He speaks thus by way of conjecture, or strong presumption. When I consider thy grievous and unusual calamities, I justly conclude thou art guilty of all or some of these following crimes; and do thou search thine own conscience, whether it be not so with thee.
From thy brother, i.e. either of thy neighbour, or of thy kinsman; which are both called by the name of brother. This is added to aggravate the offence.
For nought, i.e. without sufficient and justifiable cause; which he might do many ways; either by taking what he ought not to take, Deu 24:6; or from whom he ought not, to wit, the poor, to whom he should give Proverbs 3:27 or when and in such manner as he ought not, of which See Poole "Deu 24:10", See Poole "Deu 24:11"; or by keeping it longer than he should, as when the poor man’s necessity requires it, or when the debt is satisfied, Ezekiel 18:16.
Stripped the naked of their clothing; either by taking their garment for a pledge, against the law, Exodus 22:26; or otherwise by robbing them of their rights, all other injuries being synecdochically comprehended under this.
Quest. How could he strip the naked?
Answ. He calls them naked, either,
1. Because they had but very few and mean clothes, such being oft called naked, as Deu 28:48 1 Corinthians 14:11 Jam 2:15. Or,
2. From the effect, because though he did not find them naked, yet he made them so. The like phrases we have Isaiah 47:2, grind meal, i.e. by grinding corn make it meal; Amos 8:5, falsifying the deceitful balances, i.e. by falsifying making true balances deceitful. And so here, to strip the naked, is by stripping them to make them naked.
Thou hast not given water to the weary to drink, and thou hast withholden bread from the hungry.Surely thou hast been so hard-hearted as to deny a cup of cold water to those that needed and desired it. Water was ofttimes scarce and precious in those hot countries, and was appropriated to particular persons, without whose leave other persons might not take it.
To the weary, i.e. to him who by reason of hard labour or travel is weary and thirsty. So this word is used Proverbs 25:25.
From the hungry, to whom it was due by God’s law, Proverbs 3:27, which also was known to Job by the light of nature. Hereby he intimates the greatness of this sin of uncharitableness, by ranking it with heinous crimes; whereas Job (as he thought) esteemed it but a small fault, if any.
But as for the mighty man, he had the earth; and the honourable man dwelt in it.Heb. And, or but, the man of arm, or strength, or, power, to him was the earth, or the land. i.e. he had the firm possession or free enjoyment of it: which is meant either,
1. Of Job, of whom he speaks invidiously in the third person. The mighty man Job possessed, and enlarged, and enjoyed his estate without any compassion to the poor. Or rather,
2. Of other rich and potent men, who had the earth or land, either.
1. By Job’s judicial sentence, which was generally given in favour of the rich, and against the poor; or,
2. By Job’s kindness and courtesy. The rich were always welcome to him, his house was open to them, his land was before them, when the poor were driven away from his house and territories.
The honourable man dwelt in it; either by thy sentence or permission he had a peaceable and sure possession of it. He repeateth the same thing in other words.
Thou hast sent widows away empty, and the arms of the fatherless have been broken.Widows, whose helpless estate called for thy pity, Exodus 22:22 Deu 24:17,19.
Away empty; either by denying them that relief which their poverty required, or that right which their cause deserved; or by spoiling them of their goods, because thou knewest them to be unable to oppose thee, or to right themselves.
The arms, i.e. all their supports, and comforts, and rights. A heinous sin, but falsely charged upon Job.
Therefore snares are round about thee, and sudden fear troubleth thee;For these and the like crimes. The cause of thy ruin is not secret from God’s sovereign power, and unsearchable judgments, (as thou pretendest,) but plain and manifest, even thy own crying sins.
Snares are round about thee; thou art encompassed with dangers and calamities.
Sudden fear: beside thy present miseries, thou art tormented with the dread and expectation of further and sorer judgments.
Or darkness, that thou canst not see; and abundance of waters cover thee.Darkness; either,
1. A darkness and confusion of mind so great that thou canst not discern the true cause and use of all thy sufferings. Or,
2. Grievous calamities, which are oft called darkness, which are such that thou canst see no way nor possibility of escaping. Either thou art troubled with fear of further evils, as it is said, Job 21:10, or with the gross darkness of thy present state of misery.
Abundance of waters, i.e. plenty and variety of sore afflictions, which are frequently compared to waters, as Psalm 18:16 66:12 Isaiah 43:2.
Is not God in the height of heaven? and behold the height of the stars, how high they are!Is not God in the height of heaven? Surely he is; and from that high tower he looketh down upon men, Psalm 14:2, to behold, and govern, and recompense all their actions, whether good or bad. And therefore, O Job, thou art grossly mistaken, in thinking that all things in this lower world are managed by chance, and without any regard to justice, or to just men, and not by the wise and holy providence of God; for this is the genuine consequence of thy great principle, that good men suffer as deeply as any others, whilst the vilest of men are exalted and flourish.
Behold the height of the stars, how high they are; yet God is far higher than they, and from thence can easily spy all men and things here below; as the highest places afford the best prospects.
And thou sayest, How doth God know? can he judge through the dark cloud?And, or, therefore; from this true and certain principle thou drawest this false and wicked conclusion. Or, yet, notwithstanding this undeniable argument.
Thou sayest; thou reasonest thus within thyself, as it may seem by thy discourses.
How doth God know? i.e. God cannot discern, and therefore doth not mind things so far below him and distant from him.
Can he judge through the dark cloud, i.e. through those immense and innumerable clouds which lie between the heaven and the earth, although our eyes see but few of them?
Thick clouds are a covering to him, that he seeth not; and he walketh in the circuit of heaven.His conversation and business and delight is in the higher and heavenly world, which is worthy of his care, but he will not disparage nor burden himself with the care of this contemptible spot of earth; which was the opinion of many heathen philosophers, and, as they fancied, was Job’s opinion also.
Hast thou marked the old way which wicked men have trodden?Heb. the way of antiquity, i.e. of men living in ancient times, or former ages. By this way is here meant, either,
1. Their course or common practice; or,
2. Their end or success; as the
way is taken, 1 Samuel 9:6,8; and as death, which is, and is called, the end of all men, Ecclesiastes 7:2, is also called the way of all the earth, Joshua 23:14 1 Kings 2:2.
Which were cut down out of time, whose foundation was overflown with a flood:Out of time, i.e. before their time; who died a violent and untimely death.
Whose foundation was overflown with a flood; who, together with their foundation, to wit, the earth, and all their supports and enjoyments in it, were destroyed by the general deluge; which doubtless was very well known to them, because they lived not long after it; and which was most proper for this argument. Or,
whose foundation, i.e. all their power, and riches, and policy, upon which they build all their hopes and happiness, was like a flood poured forth; which made a great show and noise for a time, but speedily vanished and came to nothing.
Which said unto God, Depart from us: and what can the Almighty do for them?He reports Job’s words, Job 21:14,15, (where they are explained,) but to a contrary purpose. Job alleged them to show that they prospered notwithstanding their professed wickedness, and Eliphaz produceth them to show that they were cut off for it.
Yet he filled their houses with good things: but the counsel of the wicked is far from me.Yet it is true that for a time God did prosper them, as he did thee; which also was the aggravation of their sin, and that which hastened their ruin: but at last, and in due time, God cut them off in a tremendous and exemplary manner; as he will also do thee, if thou dost not repent.
But the counsel of the wicked is far from me; he repeats Job’s words, Job 21:16, not without reflection and some kind of derision. Thou didst say so, but without sufficient reason, and against thy own principle, that God carries himself indifferently towards good and bad; but I, who have observed God’s terrible judgments upon wicked men, have much more reason to abhor their counsels which had so sad an issue.
The righteous see it, and are glad: and the innocent laugh them to scorn.The righteous see it; whom God oft spares in common calamities, and makes them to survive and see the destruction of the wicked; as Noah, Lot, &c.
Are glad; not that they insult over or rejoice in the ruin of any men, but because they delight in the vindication of God’s honour, and justice, and holiness, which is conjoined with the destruction of his enemies, and which is and ought to be dearer to them than all the interests of men.
The innocent laugh them to scorn; they justly deride them, for their vain and yet strong confidences, which are now destroyed; and for their profane contempt of God and of his judgments, which now they feel; and for their deep and crafty counsels, which are now frustrated and turned against themselves.
Whereas our substance is not cut down, but the remnant of them the fire consumeth.Whereas; or, when; or, seeing that; or, because; for this Hebrew particle im is oft used for chi. And so the following words may contain the reason of the joy and laughter of the innocent, mentioned Job 22:19, because when wicked men are destroyed, they are preserved; because
our substance, i.e. our souls, and bodies, and subsistence,
was now cut down. He should have said their substance, i.e. the substance of the righteous; but he changeth the person, and saith,
our substance; either as including himself in the number of righteous persons, and thereby intimating that he pleaded the common cause of all such, whilst Job pleaded the cause of the wicked, as is elsewhere observed; or because he would hereby thankfully acknowledge some eminent and particular preservation given to him amongst other righteous men; or because he and his brethren were of the same substance with and descended from the loins of them whom God had miraculously preserved, when others round about them were cut off; as God had done for Abraham and his posterity, of which race these are conceived to have been. And a like change both of person and number we find Hosea 12:4, He found him (i.e. Jacob) in Beth-el, and there he spake with us, i.e. with him, as representing us, and for all our good.
The remnant; all that was left undestroyed in the general calamity. Or, their excellency; all their desirable and delectable things. Of them, i.e. of those who are opposed to the righteous, and in whose destruction the righteous rejoiced.
The fire, to wit, of God’s wrath: some dreadful judgment, either proper fire, possibly that which destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, which such knowing and inquisitive persons could not be ignorant of, as a thing done near their times and places; or some other sore calamity; for such oft come under the name of fire. But this whole verse is and may be otherwise rendered, and that interrogatively. Is not (or rather, was not, the Hebrew prefix he being here understood, after the manner of the language, from Job 22:15, where it is expressed) our substance (i.e. almost all our nature and kind) cut off, (almost all destroyed in the flood,) and did not the fire consume a
remnant of them, i.e. of mankind, and of ungodly men, in Sodom and Gomorrah?
Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee.With him, i.e. with God, as appears both from Job 22:23, where he is expressed, and from the nature of the thing, there being no other way to happiness. Renew thy acquaintance and converse with God by prayer, which thou hast restrained, Job 15:4. and repentance for all thy sins, and true humiliation under his hand, and hearty compliance with all his commands, and diligent care to serve and enjoy him; and be no longer estranged from God, as thou now art.
Be at peace: this is either,
1. A promise, the imperative being put for the future of the indicative mood, and so thou shalt have peace, i.e. prosperity and happiness. Or rather,
2. A counsel or command; If God be an enemy to thee, as thou sayest he is, reconcile thyself to him by true repentance, and earnestly seek his favour and friendship, and do not provoke him further by thy false and wicked speeches of him, or by thy froward carriage to him: and whereas thou art full of unquietness and rage against God, learn to possess thy soul in patience, give over murmuring against him, and get a composed, and quiet, and submissive mind and heart; which is called peace, Judges 6:23 19:20 Isaiah 57:21. Thus far is the command or exhortation; now followeth the promise.
Thereby, i.e. by following these counsels.
Good shall come unto thee; thou shalt be freed from all thy calamities, and enjoy all the happiness which thy heart can desire.
Receive, I pray thee, the law from his mouth, and lay up his words in thine heart.Take the law and rule whereby thou governest thy thoughts, and words, and whole life, not from profane heathens, whose opinion concerning God’s providence thou hast embraced, nor from thy own vain imaginations or violent passions, which have led thee into thy present errors and miscarriages, but from God, and from his word, and from his law, which is written in thy own mind, and from the doctrines and instructions of the holy men of God, who are all of our mind in this matter.
Lay up his words in thine heart, i.e. do not only hear them with thine ears, but let them sink into thy heart being received there by hearty affection, and fixed by serious, and frequent, and practical consideration of them, Psalm 119:11 Matthew 13:9 Luke 2:19,51.
If thou return to the Almighty, thou shalt be built up, thou shalt put away iniquity far from thy tabernacles.To the Almighty; or, home to the Almighty; or, so as to reach to the Almighty, and be joined to him. The Hebrew phrase is extraordinary, and emphatical, and implies a thorough and effectual turning not only from sin, (which a hypocrite may do in great part, at least for a time, upon carnal motives, and without any respect or love to God,) but also unto God, so as to love him, and cleave to him, and sincerely devote a man’s self to his fear and service. And he expresseth it in this manner, because he thought Job to be a hypocrite, and therefore counselleth him to turn to God in another and better manner than he had done, to wit, with all his heart, and not feignedly.
Thou shalt be built up; God, who hath pulled thee down in thy estate, and honour, and children, will repair thy ruins, and give thee more children, which is oft called building; Genesis 16:2 Exodus 1:21 Ruth 4:11; and bless thee with prosperity and happiness, as building signifies, Jeremiah 42:10 31:4.
Thou shalt put away iniquity far from thy tabernacles: this may be either,
1. A condition, upon which God makes the following promises, If (which particle may be repeated out of the former part of the verse) thou shalt put away, &c., i.e. if thou shalt effectually purge thyself and family from all sin, and keep thyself and them, as far as thou canst, from all appearances and occasions of sin, which is the duty of all, and the practice of true penitents; whereby he seems to reflect upon Job, as if he had been faulty and negligent in the government of himself or children, notwithstanding his sacrificing for them, Job 1. Or rather,
2. A promise, because the conditions required had been expressed together, Job 22:21,22, and in the beginning of this verse, after which he comes to the promises, and begins with this,
thou shalt be built up, and so proceeds to other promises; and therefore it seems not probable that he should return to the conditions again, and mix the conditions and promises together, which he hath so carefully separated in these verses. And so it is either,
1. A spiritual promise, If thou dost sincerely repent, God will give thee more grace effectually to reform thyself and family, according to that rule, To him that hath shall be given. Or,
2. A temporal promise,
Thou shalt put away iniquity, or injury, or perverseness, (i.e. either perverse and injurious men; or God’s judgments, or the punishments of thy sins; as iniquity is very oft used,)
far from thy tabernacles, i.e. from all thy dwellings, and tents, and possessions; no hand of violence shall come near them, no evil plague shall come upon thy own habitation, or upon the habitations of thy children, as lately it did for thine and their sins.
Then shalt thou lay up gold as dust, and the gold of Ophir as the stones of the brooks.Gold; solid or choice gold, as the word signifies.
As dust, i.e. in great abundance. Or, upon the dust, or ground; it shall be so plentiful, and therefore vile, that thou shalt not lock it up in chests and treasuries, but scatter it any where, and let it lie even upon the ground.
As the stones of the brook; as plentifully as if the places of gold were but so many pebble stones, which are to be found in and near every brook. Or, for the stones, i.e. instead of them. Or, in the rock, or among the rocks: gold shall be so abundant, that thou mayst lay it any where, even upon or among the rocks.
Yea, the Almighty shall be thy defence, and thou shalt have plenty of silver.God by his special and watchful providence shall protect thee from all dangers and calamities. Heb.
thy defences, or munitions. One God shall keep thee as safely as many munitions.
Plenty of silver, Heb. silver of strength, i.e. which by God’s blessing shall be thy defence, Ecclesiastes 7:12. Or, silver of heights, i.e. high and heaped up like a mountain.
For then shalt thou have thy delight in the Almighty, and shalt lift up thy face unto God.For; — so this verse contains a reason why he might confidently expect all those former outward blessings, because he should have God’s favour, which is the spring and foundation of them. Or, surely, or, yea, moreover; for this particle chi is sometimes used by way of aggravation, or amplification, as Genesis 45:26 1 Samuel 14:41 Isaiah 7:9 32:13. And this suits very well here; yea, God will do greater things than these for thee.
Thou shalt have thy delight in the Almighty; thou shalt find delight not only in these outward comforts, but also and especially in God, whose face shall shine upon thee; who shall give time these things not in anger and wrath, as he doth to wicked men, but as pledges of his love and favour to thee, and of those greater and eternal blessings which he hath in store for thee; and accordingly thou shalt delight thyself in worshipping, enjoying, obeying, and serving God in and with all his mercies.
Shalt lift up thy face unto God, i.e. look up to him by meditation and prayer, not as now thou dost, with horror and grief, which is signified by a dejected countenance, 2 Samuel 2:22 Luke 18:13; but with cheerfulness and confidence, as this phrase oft notes, as Luke 21:28. See Poole "Job 11:15".
Thou shalt make thy prayer unto him, and he shall hear thee, and thou shalt pay thy vows.Hear thee, i.e. answer thy prayers, and not disregard them, and hide himself from thee, as now he doth.
Thou shalt pay thy vows, i.e. thou shalt obtain those blessings for which thou didst make vows to God, and therefore, according to thy obligation, shalt pay thy vows to him. The antecedent is here supposed and understood out of the consequent.
Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee: and the light shall shine upon thy ways.Thy purposes and designs shall not be disappointed, but effected and ratified by God; which is a great satisfaction. In all thy counsels, and courses, and actions, God shall give thee the light of his direction and governance, and of comfort and success; and thou shalt not be in such a dark, and doubtful, and perplexed condition as now thou art.
When men are cast down, then thou shalt say, There is lifting up; and he shall save the humble person.When men are cast down, Heb. When they (i.e. they who do this work. It is an indefinite and impersonal speech, which is very common in the Hebrew language) shall cast down or overthrow; either,
1. Proud and wicked men, as may be guessed by the opposition of the humble and innocent, who should be saved, whilst these were destroyed. So the sense is, When there shall come a general calamity, which shall sweep away all the wicked round about them. Or,
2. Thee, or thine; which pronoun is oft understood. So the sense is, When through God’s permission thou shalt be brought into some trouble, which God sees fit for thee.
Thou shalt say within thyself, with good assurance and confidence.
There is lifting up; or, There shall be lifting up, either,
1. For them; if they repent and humble themselves, they shall be preserved or restored. And this thou wilt assure them of from thy own experience. Or,
2. For thee and thine; God will deliver thee, when others are crushed and destroyed. And; or, for; this particle being oft put causally, as hath been formerly noted. So the following words contain a reason why he might confidently say, that there would be such a lifting up for a person so humbled.
He, i.e. God, unto whom only salvation belongeth, Psalm 3:8.
Shall save; either,
1. Eternally; or,
2. Temporally, to wit, from the evils here mentioned.
The humble person, Heb. him that hath low or cast-down eyes; which phrase may here note, either,
1. Humility and lowliness of mind and disposition, as pride is oft expressed by high or lofty looks, as Psalm 18:27 101:5 131:1 Proverbs 6:17. And so this is a tacit admonition and reproof for Job, whom for his confident justification of himself, and his contemptuous expressions and censures concerning them, they judged to Job guilty of intolerable pride of heart. Or,
2. Lowness of estate or condition, as Jam 1:10. So it notes him whose eyes and countenance are dejected by reason of his great troubles and miseries; as, on the contrary, prosperity makes persons lift up their eyes and faces.
He shall deliver the island of the innocent: and it is delivered by the pureness of thine hands.He, i.e. God, as Job 22:29, whose prerogative it is to give deliverances.
Shall deliver, to wit, upon thy request, as the following clause showeth: God will hear thy prayers even for others, which is a great honour and comfort; and much more for thyself.
The island of the innocent; not only thyself, when thou shalt become innocent and pure, but for thy sake he will deliver the whole island (or country, that word being oft used not only for such lands or countries as were separated from Canaan by the sea, as is commonly observed, but also for such as were upon the same continent with it, as appears from Genesis 10:5 Psalm 72:10 97:1 Isaiah 41:5) in which thou dwellest. Or, the guilty, or him that is not innocent; for the word here rendered island is sometimes used for not, in Scripture, as 1 Samuel 4:21 Proverbs 31:4. So the sense is, God will have so great a respect to thy innocency and purity, that for thy sake he will deliver those that belong to thee, or live with thee, or near thee, though in themselves they be sinful creatures, and ripe for destruction. See Genesis 18:32.
It is delivered, to wit, the island; or, he, i.e. the guilty person.
By the pureness of thine hands, i.e. by thy prayers proceeding from a pure heart and conscience. When thou shalt lift up pure hands to God in prayer, as it is expressed, 1 Timothy 2:8; whereby as he asserts the prevalency of the righteous man’s prayers with God for mercy, both for himself and others; and by this argument he persuadeth Job to repentance; so withal he allegeth this as an argument or evidence that Job did not stretch out pure hands to God in prayer, as he pretended, because his prayers could not prevail for the preservation of himself or his children, and much less for others at a greater distance.