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.
Verse 1. - There was a man. This opening presents to us the Book of Job as a detached work, separate from and independent of all others. The historical books are generally united each to each by the you connective. In the land of Us. Uz, or Huz (Hebrew, עוּץ), seems to have been originally, like Judah, Moab, Ammon, Edom, etc., the name of a man. It was borne by a son of Nahor, the brother of Abraham (Genesis 22:21), and again by a son of Dishan, the son of Seir the Horite (Genesis 36:28). Some regard it as also a personal name in Genesis 10:23. But from this use it passed to the descendants of one or more of these patriarchs, and from them to the country or countries which they inhabited. The "land of Uz" is spoken of, not only in this passage, but also in Jeremiah 25:20 and Lamentations 4:21. These last-cited places seem to show that Jeremiah's "land of Uz" was in or near Edom, and therefore south of Palestine; but as Uzzites, like so many nations of these ports, were migratory, we need not be surprised if the name Uz was, at different times, attached to various localities. Arabian tradition regards the region of the Hauran, north-east of Palestine, as Job's country. The other geographical names in the Book of Job point to a more eastern location, one not far remote from the southern Euphrates, and the adjacent parts of Arabia Sheba, Dedan, Teman, Buz, Shuah, and Chesed (Casdim) all point to this locality. On the other hand, there is a passage in the inscriptions of Asshur-banipal (circ. B.C. 650-625) which, associating together the names of Huz and Buz (Khazu and Bazu), appears to place them both in Central Arabia, not far from the Jebel Shnmmar ('Ancient Monarchies,' vol. 2. p. 470). My own conclusion would be that, while the name "land of Uz" designated at various periods various localities, Job's "land of Uz" lay a little west of the Lower Euphrates, on the borders of Chaldea and Arabia. Whose name was Job. In the Hebrew the name is "Iyyob," whence the "Eyoub" of the Arabs and the "Hiob" of the Germans. It is quite a distinct name from that of the third son of Issachar (Genesis 46:18), which is properly expressed by "Job," being יוב. Iyyob is supposed to be derived from aib (אָיִב), "to be hostile," and to mean "cruelly or hostilely treated," in which ease we must suppose it to have been first given to the patriarch in his later life, and to have superseded some other, as "Peter" superseded "Simon," and "Paul" superseded "Saul." According to a Jewish tradition, adopted by some of the Christian Fathers, Job's original name was "Jobab," and under this name he reigned as King of Edom (Genesis 36:33). But this kingship is scarcely compatible with the view given of him in the Book of Job. The supposed connection of the name of Juba with that of Job is very doubtful. And that man was perfect. Tam (תָּם), the word translated "perfect," seems to mean "complete, entire, not wanting in any respect," It corresponds to the Greek τέλειος, and the Latin integer (comp. Horace, 'Od.,' 1:22. 1, "Integer vitro, scelerisque purus'). It does not mean" absolutely sinless," which Job was not (comp. Job 9:20; Job 40:4). And upright. This is the exact meaning of yashar (יָשָׁר). "The Book of Jasher" was "the Book of the Upright" (βιβλίον τοῦ εὐθοῦς, 2 Samuel 1:18). One that feared God, and eschewed evil; literally, fearing God and departing from evil. The same testimony is given of Job by God himself in ver. 8, and again in Job 2:3 (comp. also Ezekiel 14:14, 20). We must suppose Job to have reached as near perfection as was possible tot man at the time.
And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters.
Verse 2. - And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters. The numbers three and seven, and their product, ten, are certainly sacred numbers, regarded as expressive of ideal perfection. But this does not prevent their being also historical. As Canon Cook observes, "Striking coincidences between outward facts and ideal numbers are not uncommon in the purely historical portions of Scripture" ('Speaker's Commentary,' vol. 4. p. 20). There are twelve apostles, seventy (7 × 10) disciples sent out by our Lord, seven deacons, three synoptic Gospels, twelve minor prophets, seven princes of Persia and Media, ten sons of Haman, three of Noah, Gomer, Terah, Levi, and Zeruiah, seven of Japhet, Mizraim, Seir the Horite, Gad, and Jesse (1 Chronicles 2:13-15), twelve of Ishmael, twelve of Jacob, etc. Our Lord is thirty (3 x 10) years old when he begins to teach, and his ministry lasts three years; he heals seven lepers, casts out of Mary Magdalene seven devils, speaks upon the cross seven "words," bids Peter forgive his brother "seventy times seven," etc. It is thus not only in vision or in prophecy, or in symbolical language, that these "ideal numbers" come to the front far more frequently than ethers, but also in the most matter-of-fact histories.
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.
Verse 3. - His substance also; literally, his acquisition (from קָנָה, acquirere), but used of wealth generally. Seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she-asses. Note, first of all, the absence of horses or mules from this list - an indication of high antiquity. Horses were not known in Egypt till the time of the shepherd-kings (about B.C. 1900-1650), who introduced them from Asia. None are given to Abraham by the Pharaoh contemporary with him (Genesis 12:16). We hear of none as possessed by the patriarchs in Palestine; and, on the whole, it is not probable that they had been known in Western Asia very long before their introduction into Egypt. They are natives of Central Asia, where they are still found wild, and passed gradually by exportation to the more southern regions, Armenia, Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine, Arabia. Note, secondly, that the items of Job's wealth accord with those of Abraham's (Genesis 12:16). Thirdly, note that Job's wealth in cattle is not beyond credibility. An Egyptian lord of the time of the fourth dynasty relates that he possessed above 1000 oxen and cows, 974 sheep, 2,235 goals, and 760 asses (Rawlinson's 'Egypt,' vol. 2. p. 88). Further, the proportion of the camels is noticeable, and implies a residence on the borders of the desert (see the comment on ver. 1). and a very great household; literally, and a very great service, or retinue of servants. Oriental emirs and sheikhs consider it necessary for their dignity to maintain a number of attendants and retainers (except, perhaps, in feudal times) quite unknown to the West. Abraham had three hundred and eighteen trained servants, born in his house (Genesis 14:14). Egyptian households were "full of domestics," comprising attendants of all kinds - grooms, artisans, clerks, musicians, messengers, and the like. A sheikh, situated as Job was, would also require a certain number of guards, while for his cattle he would need a large body of shepherds, ox-herds, and the like (see Birch's 'Egypt from the Earliest Times,' p. 44). So that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east. The Beney Kedem, or "men of the east," literally, sons of the east, seems to include the entire population between Palestine and the Euphrates (Genesis 29:1; Judges 6:3; Judges 7:12; Judges 8:10; Isaiah 11:14; Jeremiah 49:28, etc.). Many tribes of Arabs are similarly designated at the present day, e.g. the Beni Harb, the Beni Suhr, the Bani Naim, the Bani Lain, etc. It would seem that the Phoenicians must have called themselves Beni Kedem when they settled in Greece, since the Greeks knew them as "Cadmeisns," and made them descendants of a mythic "Cadreus' (Herod., 5:57-59). The name "Saracens" is to some extent analogous, since it means "Men of the morning."
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.
Verse 4. - And his sons went and feasted. "Went and feasted" seems to mean "were in the habit of feastlng" (Rosenmuller, Lee). In their houses. Each had his own residence, and the residence was not a tent, but a" house." Job and his sons were not mere nomads, but belonged to the settled population. The same is implied by the "ploughing of the oxen" (ver. 14), and indeed by Job's "yoke of oxen" in ver. 3. Every one his day. Most commentators regard these feasts as birthday festivities. Each son in his turn, when his birthday arrived, entertained his six brothers. Others think that each of the seven brothers had his own special day of the week on which, he received his brothers at his table, so that the feasting was continuous. But this scarcely suits the context. And it is admitted that "his day" (in Job 3:1) means "his birthday." The celebration of birthdays by means of a feast was a very widespread custom in the East (see Genesis 40:20; Herod., 1:133; 9:110; Mark 14:21). And sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them. This by itself is sufficient to show that the feasts were occasional, not continuous. Constant absence of daughters, day after day, from the parental board is inconceivable.
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.
Verse 5. - And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about; rather, when the days of the feasting had come round; i.e. whenever one of the birthdays had arrived in due course, and the feasting had taken place. That Job sent and sanctified them. In the old world, outside the Mosaic Law, the father of the family was the priest, to whom alone it belonged to bless, purify, and offer sacrifice. Job, after each birthday-feast, sent, it would seem, for his sons, and purified them by the accustomed ablutions, or possibly by some other ceremonial process, regarding it as probable that, in the course of their feasting, they had contracted some defilement. It would seem by the next clause that the purification took place at the close of the day of festivity. And rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings. Burnt offerings were instituted soon after the Fall, as we learn from Genesis 4:4, and were in common use long before the Mosaic Law was given (see Genesis 8:20; Genesis 22:8, 13; Genesis 31:54; Exodus 18:12; 'Records of the Past,' vol. 2. pp. 20, 21; vol. 12. pp. 49, 71, etc.). The practice was common, so far as appears, to all the nations of antiquity, except the Persians (Herod., 1:132). According to the number of them all One, apparently, for each child, since each might have sinned in the way suggested. The offerings were clearly it. tended as expiatory. For Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts. Two wholly different meanings are assigned by good Hebraists to the expression בר אחים. According to some, בר has its usual sense, "to bless," and אלהים signifies "false gods," or "idols;" according to the others, who form the great majority, אלהים has its usual sense of "God," and בר has the unusual sense of "curse" (so Buxtorf, Rosenmuller, Schultens, (Cook, Stanley Leathes, among moderns, and among ancient authorities, the Septuagint and the Vulgate). How the same word comes to have the two wholly opposite senses of "to bless" and "to curse" has been differently explained. Some think that, as men blessed their friends both on receiving them and on bidding them adieu, the word בר got the sense of "bidding adieu to," "dismissing," "renouncing." Others regard the use of בר for "to curse" as a mere euphemism, and compare the use of sacer and sacrari in Latin, and such expressions as "Bless the stupid man!" "What a blessed nuisance!" in English. The maledictory sense seems to be established by Job 2:9 and 1 Kings 21:10. By "cursing God in their hearts" Job probably means "forgetting him," "putting him out of sight," "not giving him the honour which is his due." Thus did Job continually; literally, as in the margin, all the days; i.e. whenever one of the festival-days occurred.
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.
Verse 6. - Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord. By "the sons of God" it is generally admitted that, in this place, the angels are meant (so again in Job 38:7). The meaning of the phrase is probably different in Genesis 6:2. Angels and men are alike "sons of God," as created by him, in his image, to obey and serve him. Christ, the "Only Begotten," is his Son in quite a different sense. We may gather, perhaps, from this place and Job 2:1 that there are fixed times at which the angelic host, often sent out by the Almighty on distant errands, has to gather together, one and all, before the great white throne, to pay homage to their Lord, and probably to give an account of their doings. And Satan came also among them. The word "Satan" has the article prefixed to it השׂתן here and elsewhere in Job, as in Zechariah 3:1, 2 and in Luke 22:31; Revelation 12:9. Thus accompanied, it is less a proper name than an appellative - "the adversary" (comp. 1 Peter 5:8; ὁ ἀντίδικος). In 1 Chronicles 21:1, without the article, it is undoubtedly a proper name, as in the New Testament, passim. Accusation of men before God is one of the special offices of the evil spirit (see Zechariah 3:1, 2), who is "the accuser of the brethren, he that accuses them before God day and night" (Revelation 12:10). The accusations that he makes may be either true or false, but they are so often false that his ordinary New Testament name is ὁ διάβολος, "the Slanderer." The existence of an evil spirit must have been known to all who read or heard the story of the fall of man (Genesis 3.), and the descriptive epithet, "the Adversary," is likely to have been in use from a very early date. The notion that the Satan of the Old Testament is a reflex of the Persian Ahriman, and that the Jews derived their belief upon the subject from the Persians, is quite untenable. The character and position of Satan in the Hebrew system are quite unlike those of Ahriman (Angro-mainyus) in the religion of the Zoroastrians (see 'Ancient Monarchies,' vol. 3. pp. 104-113).
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.
Verse 7. - And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? God condescends to address the evil spirit, and asks him questions - not that anything could be added to his own knowledge, but that the angels, who were present (ver. 6), might hear and have their attention called to the doings of Satan, which would need to be watched by them, and sometimes to be restrained or (it may be) prevented (comp. 1 Kings 22:20, where again the colloquy is opened by God asking a question). Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. Satan, therefore, is not himself, like the bulk of his evil angels, "reserved in everlasting chains under darkness to the judgment of the last day" (Jude 1:6). He searches the whole earth continually, never passing, never resting, but "going about," as St. Peter says (1 Peter 5:8), "like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour," waiting till the coming of the "thousand years," when an angel will "bind him with a great chain, and cast him into the bottom-less pit" (Revelation 20:1, 2). It will be a happy day for the earth when that time comes.
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?
Verse 8. - And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered? literally. Hast thou set thine heart on? equivalent to "Hast thou given thine attention to?" (comp. Isaiah 41:22; Haggai 1:5, 7). My servant Job; i.e. "my true servant, faithful in all that he does" (comp. Hebrews 3:5). It is a high honour to any man for God to acknowledge him as his servant (see Joshua 1:2; 1 Kings 11:13, etc.). That there is none like him in the earth; rather, for there is none like him (see the Revised Version). This is given as a reason why Satan should have paid special attention to his case, and is a sort of challenge: "Thou that art always spying out some defect or other in a righteous man, hast thou noted my servant Job, and discovered any fault in him?" A perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil (see the comment on ver. 1).
Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?
Verse 9. - Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Satan insinuates that Job's motive is purely selfish. He serves God, not for love of God, or for love of goodness, but for what he gets by it. Satan is too shrewd to endeavour, as Job's friends do later, to pick holes in Job's conduct. No; that is exemplary. But the true character of acts is determined by the motive. What is Job's motive? Does he not serve God to gain his protection and blessing? Similarly, in modern times, ungodly men argue that religious and devout persons are religious and devout with a view to their own interest, because they expect to gain by it, either in this world, or in the next, or in both. This is a form of calumny which it is impossible to escape. And bad men, who are conscious to themselves of never acting except from a selfish motive, may well imagine the same of others. It is rarely that such an insinuation can be disproved. In the present instance God vindicates his servant, and covers the adversary with shame, as the other adversaries and calumniators of righteousness will be covered at the last day.
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.
Verse 10. - Hast not thou made an hedge about him? i.e. "hedged him around, protected him, made a sort of invisible fence about him, through which no evil could creep." This was undoubtedly true. God had so protected him. But the question was not as to this fact, but as to Job's motive. Was it mere prudence? - the desire to secure a continuance of this protection? And about his house; i.e. "his family" - his sons and daughters - the members of his household. And about all that he hath on every side. His possessions - land, houses, cattle, live stock of all kinds, furniture, goods and chattels. Thou hast blessed the work of his hands (comp. Psalm 1:3, where it is said of the righteous man. that "whatsoever he doeth, it shall prosper"). So it was with Job. God's blessing was upon him, and success crowned all his enterprises. "The work of his hands" will include everything that he attempted. And his substance is increased in the land. In the former clause we have the cause, God's blessing; in the latter the effect, a great increase in Job's "substance," or "cattle" (marginal reading). (On the final number of his cattle, see ver. 3.)
But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.
Verse 11. - But put forth thine hand now; literally, send forth thy hand, as a man does who strikes a blow (comp. Genesis 22:12; Exodus 3:20; Exodus 9:15, etc.). And touch all that he hath; or, smite all that he hath; i.e. ruin him, strip him of his possessions. And he will curse thee to thy face. Professor Lee translates, "If not, he will bless thee to thy face;" the LXX., "Surely he will bless thee to thy face;" Canon Cook, "See if he will not renounce thee openly." But the majority of Hebraists agree with the Authorized Version. Satan suggests that, if Job be stripped of his possessions, he will openly curse God, and renounce his worship. Here he did not so much calumniate, or lie, as show the evil thoughts that were in his own heart. No doubt he believed that Job would act as he said.
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.
Verse 12. - And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; literally, in thy hand, as in the margin. God withdraws his protection from Job's possessions; he does not himself take them away, as Satan had suggested (ver. 11); but he allows Satan, who can do nothing without his allowance, to deal with them as he pleases. As God dispenses blessings through the angelic host (Psalm 91:11, 12; Hebrews 1:14), so he, sometimes at any rate, allows spirits of evil to be the ministers of his chastisements. Only upon himself put not forth thine hand. The person of Job was not to be touched as yet. He was to be injured only in his belongings. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord. Having obtained a permission which he thought would serve his purpose, Satan did not delay, but promptly departed, to take advantage of the permission given him. To be in the presence of God must be an intense pain to the evil one.
And there was a day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house:
Verse 13. - And there was a day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house. One of the birthdays, the eldest brother's probably, had come round, and the ordinary gathering (see ver. 4) had taken place - the feasting and drinking had begun, while the father, remaining in his own house, was perhaps interceding with God for his children, or anxiously considering the possibility that, in their light-hearted merriment, they might have put God away altogether from their thoughts, and So have practically renounced him, when the series of calamities began. How often calamity comes to us when we are least expecting it, when all seems quiet about us, when everything is prospering - nay, even when a high festival-time has come, and the joy-bells are sounding in our ears, and our 'hearts are elated within us! Job was, at any rate, spared the sudden plunge from exuberant joy into the depths of woe. It was his habit to preserve an even temper, and neither to be greatly exalted, nor, unless under an extremity of suffering, to be greatly depressed. He was now, however, about to be subjected to a fiery trial.
And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them:
Verse 14. - And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were ploughing, and the asses (literally, the she-asses) feeding beside them (literally, at their hand). Note that, notwithstanding the festival, labour was still going on; there was no general holiday; the oxen were at work in the field, not perhaps all of them, but the greater number, for the ploughing-time is short in the Oriental countries, and the "earing" is all done at the same time. The bulk of Job's labourers were probably engaged in the business, and they had brought the asses with them, probably to keep them under their eye, lest thieves should carry them off, when the catastrophe related in the next verse occurred.
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.
Verse 15. - And the Sabeans (literally, Sheba) fell upon them, and took them away. The Sabeans were the principal people of Arabia in ancient times, and the name seems to be used sometimes in the general sense of "Arabs" (see Psalm 72:10, 15; Jeremiah 6:20). We may suppose that hem, either the general sense is intended, or, if the specific one, then that, at the date whereto the story of Job belongs, there were Sabeans in Eastern as well as in Southern Arabia, in the neighbourhood of the Upper Persian Gulf as well as in the neighbourhood of the Indian Ocean. The plundering habits of all the Arab tribes are well known. Strabo says that the Sabeans, even at the height of their prosperity, made excursions for the sake of plunder into Arabia Petraea and even Syria (Strab., 16:4) Yea, they have slain; rather, they slew, or they smote. The servants; literally, the young men; i.e. the labourers who were engaged in ploughing, and would be in duty bound to resist the carrying off of the cattle. With the edge of the sword. The lance is the chief weapon of the modern Bedouin, but it may have been different anciently. Or the expression used may merely mean "with weapons of war." And I only am escaped alone to tell thee. Professor Lee translates, "And I have hardly escaped alone to tell thee."
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.
Verse 16. - While he was yet speaking; literally, he yet speaking; ἔτι τούτον λαλοῦντος, LXX. The writer hurries his words to express the rapidity with which one announcement followed another (see vers. 17, 18). There came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven. "The fire of God" is undoubtedly lightning (comp. Numbers 11:1-3; 2 Kings 1:10, 14; Psalm 78:21). This Satan, under permission, might wield, as being "the prince of the power of the air" (Ephesians 2:2): but there is, no doubt, something very extraordinary in a storm extending over the pastures occupied by nine thousand sheep, and destroying the whole of them (Cook) Still, it cannot be said that such a storm is impossible; and perhaps the damage done was not greater than that which followed on the seventh Egyptian plague (see Exodus 9:18-26). And hath burned up the sheep, and the servants; literally, the young men; i.e. the shepherds who were in attendance upon the sheep. And consumed them; literally, devoured them. Fire is often said to "devour" what it destroys. "The Egyptians," says Herodotus, "believe fire to be a live animal, which eats whatever it can seize, and then, glutted with the food, dies with the matter which it feeds upon" (Herod., 3:16). And I only am escaped alone to tell thee (see the comment on ver. 15).
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.
Verse 17. - While he was yet speaking, there came also another (see the comment on ver. 16). The exact repetition of a clause, without the alteration of a word or a letter, is very archaic (comp. Genesis 1:4, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31; and for another repetition, Genesis 1:10, 12, 18, 21, 25). And said, The Chaldeans; literally, the Casdim (כַשְׂדִים), which is the word uniformly used in the Hebrew where the Authorized Version has "Chaldeans" or "Chaldees." The native name seems to have been Kaldi or Kaldai, whence the Greek Ξαλδαῖοι, and the Latin Chaldaei. It is very difficult to account for the Hebrews having substituted a sibilant for the liquid; but it was certainly done from the earliest period of their literature (Genesis 11:31) to the latest (see Targums, passim). Some derive the Hebrew Casdim from "Chesed," one of the sons of Nahor (Genesis 22:22); but Abraham left Ur of the Chaldees before Chesed was born (Genesis 22:20). And there is no evidence of any connection between Chesed, who was born at Haran, and the Babylonian Chaldeans. The Chaldeans were probably early settlers in Babylonia; by degrees they were pressed to the south, and gave the name of Chaldea to Lower Babylonia, or the tract nearest to the Persian Gulf (Strab., 16:1, § 66; Ptolemy, 'Geographia,' 5:20). From a remote date they were a settled and civilized people; but no doubt originally they had the same predatory instincts as their neighbours. Made out three bands. Professor Lee translates, "appointed three captains," which is a possible meaning of the words; but the weight of authority supports the rendering of the Authorized Version. And fell upon the camels. Perhaps the most valuable part of Job's possessions. Three thousand camels would be regarded as a splendid capture by any body of Oriental marauders. And have carried them away, yea, and slain the servants (literally, the young men, as in ver. 16) with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee (compare the comment on ver. 15).
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:
Verse 18. - While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said (see the comment on ver. 16), Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house (comp. ver. 13). It is a common proverb that "misfortunes never come singly." Shakespeare says they "come not single foes, but in battalions." Still, so overwhelming a series of calamities falling upon a single individual all in one day could not but strike those who heard of them as abnormal, and almost certainly supernatural. So Job's friends concluded (Job 5:17).
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.
Verse 19. - And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness; rather, from across the wilderness - a wind which began in the region lying on the other side of the wilderness, and sweeping across it, came with full force upon the inhabited tract where Job and his sons were dwelling. The desert winds are often very violent. Generally they are Laden with heavy clouds of fine sand, which cause intolerable discomfort and thirst; but when they sweep over a rocky and gravelly region, they are simply of extreme violence, without other distressing feature. They then resemble the hurricanes or tornadoes of the West Indies. We may reasonably connect this hurricane with the thunderstorm of ver. 16. And smote the four corners of the house, and it fell. The "houses" of the East are not the solid structures of heavy timber, brick, and stone to which we of the West are accustomed, but light fabrics of planks and palisades, thatched mostly with reeds. Houses of this kind, when the rain descends, and the winds blow and beat against them (Matthew 7:6), readily fall. Upon the young men; rather, the young persons. Na'ar (נער) is of both genders in early Hebrew (see Genesis 24:14, etc.). And they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. Again, the calamity has a completeness which marks it as supernatural. The fall of a house does not usually destroy all the inmates.
Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,
Verse 20. - Then Job arose. Not till the last calamity was announced did Job stir. The loss of his wealth little moved him. But when he heard that his children were destroyed, all of them "at one fell swoop," then he could endure no longer, but rose from the seat on which he was sitting, and showed forth his grief. First he rent his mantle, "the outer robe worn by men of rank" (Cook) - a customary sign of grief in the ancient world (Genesis 37:29, 34; Genesis 44:13; 1 Kings 21:27; 2 Kings 19:1; Esther 4:1; Joel 2:13; Herod., 8:99; Livy, 1:13, etc.); then he shaved his head - another less usual but still not uncommon sign of grief, forbidden under the Law of the Jews (Leviticus 21:5; Deuteronomy 14:1), but widely practised by the Gentiles (Isaiah 15:2; Jeremiah 47:5; Jeremiah 48:37; Herod., 2:36; 9:24; Plut.,'Vit. Pelop.,' § 34; Q. Gurt.,'Vit. Alex.,' 10:5, § 17). And fell down upon the ground, and worshipped. After giving vent to his natural grief, Job made an act of adoration. Recognizing the fact that adversity, as well as prosperity comes from God, and submitting himself to the Divine will, he "worshipped." How often has his act flashed across the minds of Christians. and enabled them, in their dark hour, to imitate him, and repeat his words, "The Lord gave," etc.!
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.
Verse 21. - And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither. There is some difficulty in the word "thither," since no man returns to his mother's womb (John 3:4), at death or otherwise. The expression must not be pressed. It arises out of the analogy, constantly felt and acknowledged, between "mother" earth and a man's actual mother (setup. Psalm 129:15). The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away. Job is here represented as knowing God by his name "Jehovah," though elsewhere the "great Name" appears once only in the words of Job (Job 12:9), and never in the words of his friends. The natural conclusion is that the name was known in the land of Uz at the time, but was very rarely used - scarcely, except in moments of excitement. Blessed be the Name of the Lord; literally, may the Name of Jehovah be blessed! The ermphatic word is kept for the last. According to Satan, Job was to have" cursed God to his face" (ver. 11). The event is that he openly and resolutely blesses God. That the same word is used in its two opposite senses rather accentuates the antithesis.
In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.
Verse 22. - In all this Job sinned not. It was only the commencement of the probation; but so far, at any rate, Job had not sinned - he had preserved his integrity, had spoken and done rightly. Nor charged God foolishly; literally, gave not folly to God, which is explained to mean either "did not attribute to God anything inconsistent with wisdom and goodness" (Delitzsch, Merx), or "did not utter any foolishness against God" (Ewald, Dillmann, Cook). The latter is probably the true meaning (comp. Job 6:6; Job 24:12).