seeing in your answers there remaineth falsehood; all their replies to Job were filled with these intimations and suggestions, that wicked men were only and always afflicted; or if they were at any time in prosperity, it was but for a little while; that good men were seldom or never afflicted, at least as Job was, or but a little afflicted, and for a little while: now Job had proved the contrary to all this, and therefore no consolation could be hoped for from men that held such tenets; comfort only springs from truth, and not falsehood; a man that speaks the truths, or delivers out the truths of God's word, he speaks to comfort and edification; but he that brings nothing but error and falsehood can never be the means and instrument of true solid comfort to any. Job having thus fully proved his point, and confuted the notions of his friends, it might have been thought they would have sat down in silence, and made no further answer; but Eliphaz rises up a third time, and makes a reply, as follows.
INTRODUCTION TO Job 22
This chapter contains the third and last reply of Eliphaz to Job, in which he charges him with having too high an opinion of himself, of his holiness and righteousness, as if God was profited by it, and laid thereby under obligation to him, whereas he was not, Job 22:1; and as if he reproved and chastised him, because of his fear of him, whereas it was because of his sins, Job 22:4; an enumeration of which he gives, as of injustice, oppression, cruelty to the poor, and even of atheism and infidelity, for which snares and fears were around him, and various calamities, Job 22:6; and compares his way and course of life to that of the men of the old world, and the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, and suggests that his end would be like theirs, unless he repented, Job 22:15; and then concludes with an exhortation to him to return to God by repentance, and to reform, when he should see happy times again, and enjoy much outward and inward prosperity, and be an instrument of doing much good to many, Job 22:21.
as he that is wise may be profitable unto himself? or "though", or "indeed, truly he that is wise", &c. (h). A man that is worldly wise is profitable to himself and his family, by gathering wealth and riches; and a man that is wise, and has a large understanding of natural things, may be profitable to himself by enriching his mind with knowledge, increasing the pleasure of it, and getting credit and fame among men by it, and may be profitable to others by communicating his knowledge to them, see Proverbs 9:12; and one that is spiritually wise, or has the true grace of God, and wisdom in the hidden part, which is no other than real godliness, gets great gain; for godliness is that to him, and is profitable for all things, having the promise of the present and future life; and he that has an interest in Christ, the Wisdom of God, is a happy man indeed, since he has that, the merchandise of which is better than silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold; one that is wise unto salvation, and is a wise professor of religion, and walks wisely and circumspectly, has great advantages; he builds his salvation on the rock Christ, and is safe and sure; he is concerned to have the oil of grace, with the lamp of a profession, and so is always ready to meet the bridegroom; and being careful of his conversation, keeps his garments that his shame is not seen; and so a wise minister of the word, "one that instructs" (i), or gives instructions to others, as the word here signifies; or one that causes to understand, or is the means of causing men to understand, such a man is profitable to himself and to others, see Daniel 12:3.
(h) "immo", Beza; "profecto", Schultens. (i)
or is it gain to him that thou makest thy ways perfect? no man's ways are perfect before God, even the best of men have detects in their works, and failings in their walk and conversations: some men's ways are indeed clean in their own eyes, and perfect in their own conceit; and if Eliphaz thought Job such an one, he was mistaken, see Job 9:20; there are others, who are in a sense unblamable in their walk and conversation; that is, are not guilty of any notorious crime, but exercise a conscience void of offence towards God and man, walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless; and yet this is no "gain" to God; for what does such a man give to him? or what does he receive of his hands? see Job 35:7. This was indeed Job's case and character.
(k) "quod justifices te", Junius & Tremellius. (l) "Quum Justus es apud teipsum", Schmidt; "quod tibi justus esse videris", Michaelis.
will he enter with thee into judgment? that is, will he, in reverence to thee, out of respect to so great a person (speaking ironically), in condescension to one of so much consequence, will he regard thy request, so often made, as to come into judgment with thee, and to admit of thy cause being pleaded before him, and to give the hearing of it, and decide the affair in controversy? or rather, will he not plead against thee, and condemn thee for thy sins, as follow? in this sense it is to be deprecated, and not desired, see Psalm 143:2.
(m) "an de religione tua", Junius & Tremellius; "ob timorem tuum", so some in Drusius; "num ob pietatem tuam", others in Michaelis.
and thine iniquities infinite? strictly speaking, nothing is infinite but God; sins may be said in some sense to be infinite, because committed against an infinite God, and cannot be satisfied for by a finite creature, or by finite sufferings, only through the infinite value of the blood of Christ; here it signifies, that his iniquities were "innumerable" (n), as some versions, they were not to be reckoned up, they were so many; or, more literally, there is "no end of thine iniquities" (o), there is no summing of them up; and it may denote his continuance in them; Eliphaz suggests as if Job 54ed in sin, and allowed himself in it, and was going on in a course of iniquity without end, which was very uncharitable; here he charges him in a general way, and next he descends to particulars.
(n) Sept. (o) "non est finis iniquitatibus tuis", Pagninus, Montanus, &c.
and stripped the naked of their clothing; not such as were stark naked, because they have no clothes to be stripped of; but such that were poorly clothed, scarce sufficient to cover their nakedness, and preserve them from the inclemencies of weather; these were stripped of their clothing, and being stripped, were quite naked and exposed, which to do was very cruel and hardhearted; perhaps it may respect the same persons from whom the pledge was taken, and that pledge was their clothing, which was no uncommon thing, see Exodus 22:26.
(p) , Sept. "capies in pignus fratres tuos", Montanus.
and thou hast withholden bread from the hungry: bread, which strengthens man's heart, and is the staff of life, without which he cannot support; and this is not to be withheld from, but given even to an enemy when hungry; and to deny it to a poor neighbour in such circumstances is very cruel; the charge is, that Job would not give a poor hungry man a morsel of bread to eat; which must be false, being directly contrary to what he strongly asserts, Job 31:17.
and the honourable man dwelt in it; peaceably, quietly, and undisturbed, though he had no just title to it; or "the man accepted of face" or "countenance" (q), who was respected because of his outward circumstances, wealth and riches, power and authority; and so Job is tacitly charged with being a respecter of persons in judgment, which was not good; and in general these phrases denote partiality in him, that he was favourable to the mighty and powerful, and unkind and cruel to the poor and needy. Some (r) understand all this of Job himself, that because he was the mighty man, or "man of arms" (s), he made use of his power and might, and stretched out his arm, and grasped and got into his possession, by force and violence, the houses, and lands, and estates of others, and became the greatest man in all the east, and the earth in a manner was his alone; and because he was respected for his greatness and riches, he was confirmed therein, and dwelt securely: or rather, taking the words in this sense, they may be considered as an aggravation of Job's sins, both before and after charged upon him; as that when he was the mighty and honourable man, and though he was such, and had it in the power of his hands to do a great deal of good to the poor and needy; yet took a pledge from his indigent brother, stripped those that were almost naked of their clothing, and would not give a poor weary traveller a cup of water, nor a morsel of bread to an hungry man; yea, abused his power and authority which he had, to the oppression of the widow and fatherless, as in Job 22:9.
(q) "acceptus faciebus", Montanus; "vel facie", Vatablus, Beza, Junius & Tremellius, Drusius, Mercerus. (r) Jarchi, Ramban, Bar Tzemach, Sephorno. (s) "viro brachii", Pagninus, Montanus, Bolducius, Vatablus, Drusius, &c.
and the arms of the fatherless have been broken; not in a literal sense, as if when refusing to go out, when their mothers, the widows, had their houses spoiled, and they sent empty out of them; these laid hold on something within them, and would not depart, and so, had their arms broken by the mighty man, the man of arms; but, in a metaphorical and figurative sense, their substance, and goods, and possessions, left them by their fathers for their support, these were taken away from them, and so they were as impotent and helpless as if their arms had been broken; or their friends on whom they relied for their sustenance, these were either ruined, and so could not help them; or else their affections were alienated from them, and would not. This indeed is not expressly charged upon Job, but it is intimated that it was done with his knowledge and consent, good will, and approbation; at least that he connived at it, and suffered it to be done when it was in his power to have prevented it, and therefore to be ascribed unto him; but how foreign is all this to Job's true character, Job 29:12?
and sudden fear troubleth thee; those things, at least some of them, were what he feared, and they came suddenly upon him, and gave him great trouble and distress, Job 3:25; and present fear frequently, on a sudden, darted into his mind, and gave him fresh trouble; he was afraid of his present sorrows, and of further and future ones, Job 9:28; and perhaps Eliphaz might think he was afraid of hell and damnation, and of sudden destruction from the Almighty coming upon him, Job 31:23; see Isaiah 24:17.
and abundance of waters cover thee; afflictions, which are frequently compared to many waters, and floods of them, because of the multitude of them, their force and strength, the power and rapidity with which they come; and because overflowing, overbearing, and overwhelming, and threaten with utter ruin and destruction, unless stopped by the mighty hand of God, who only can resist and restrain them; Eliphaz represents Job like a man drowning, overflowed with a flood of water, and covered with its waves, and in the most desperate condition, see Psalm 69:1.
and behold the height of the stars, how high they are; or "the head" or "top of the stars" (u), which Ben Gersom interprets of the supreme orb, or that high and vast space in which the fixed stars are, or the highest of them, which are at the greatest distance; according to Mr. Huygens (w) a cannon ball discharged would be twenty five years in passing from the earth to the sun, from, Jupiter to the sun an hundred twenty five years, from Saturn two hundred fifty, and from the sun to the dog star (v) 691,600 years; and if therefore it would be so long going to the nearest of the fixed stars, how great must be the distance of them from our earth, which are so much higher than the dog star as that is from the sun? But, though these are so exceeding high, yet God is higher than they, see Isaiah 14:13; the truth contained in these words was what both Eliphaz and Job were agreed in, let them be spoken by which they will, some ascribing them to the One, and some to the other; from whence Eliphaz represents Job drawing an inference very impious, blasphemous, and atheistical.
(t) "sublimitas coelorum", Bolducius; "altitudo coeli", Michaelis; "altitudo coelorum", Schultens. (u) "capat stellarum", Montanus, Bolaucius, Mercerus, Cocceius; "verticem stellarum", V. L. Tigurine version, Michaelis, Schultens. (w) Cosmotheoros, l. 2. p. 125, 137. (v) (The Dog Star is the brighest star in the heavens when viewed from the earth. It has a visual magnitude of -1.4 and is 8.7 light years from the earth. It is in the constellation Sirius. The closest star to the earth is Centaurus and has a visual magnitude of 0 and is 4.3 light years from the earth. It is several times fainter the the Dog Star but is still quite bright compared to neighbouring stars. 1969 Oberserver's Handbook, p. 74, 75. The Royal Astonomical Society of Canada, Toronto, Ontario. Editor)
can he judge through the dark clouds? if he cannot see and know what is done, he cannot judge of it, whether it is good or bad, and so can neither justify nor condemn an action. By "the dark cloud" is not meant the matter, or corporeal mass, with which man is covered, as a Jewish commentator (x) interprets it; rather the cloudy air, or atmosphere around us; or that thick darkness in which Jehovah dwells, clouds and darkness being around him, Psalm 97:2; but all this hinders not his sight of things done here below; what is thick darkness to us is pure light to him, in which also he is said to dwell, and with which he covers himself as with a garment; and the darkness and the light are both alike to him, he can see and judge through the one as well as the other.
and he walketh in the circuit of heaven; within which he keeps himself, and never looks down upon the earth, or takes any notice of what is done there; quite contrary to Psalm 14:3; as if he only took his walks through the spacious orb of heaven, and delighted himself in viewing the celestial mansions, and the furniture of them, but had no regard to anything below them; whereas, though he walks in the circuit of heaven, he also sits upon the circle of the earth, Isaiah 41:22; Eliphaz seems here to ascribe the sentiments perhaps of the Zabians in former times to Job, and since adopted by some philosophers; that God only regards the heavenly bodies, and supports them in their beings, and regulates and directs their motions, and leaves all things below to be governed and influenced by them, as judging it unworthy of him to be concerned with things on earth. Indeed the earth and the inhabitants of it are unworthy of his notice and care, and of his providential visits, but he does humble himself to look upon things on earth as well as in heaven, Psalm 8:4; to make Job reason after this Epicurean manner was doing great injustice to his character, who most firmly believed both the being and providence of God, and that as extending to all things here below, see Job 12:13.
(y) "viri iniquitatis", Montanus, Mercerus; so Drusius, Michaelis. (z) "profecto viam seculi servas", Schultens.
whose foundation was overflown with a flood; either of water, or of fire and brimstone, as Jarchi observes; the former is most likely to be meant; for by the flood, or universal deluge, all that was thought firm and permanent, and might be called a foundation, was overflown and carried away, as houses, goods, furniture, wealth, and riches, and everything that men had a dependence upon for the support and comfort of life; yea, the earth itself, on which they dwelt, and was reckoned "terra firma", this being founded upon, and over the waters; or, as the Apostle Peter describes it, "it standing out of the water and in the water", 2 Peter 3:5; or "their foundation was a flood poured out" (d); what they thought were solid, and firm, and durable, and built their hopes of happiness upon, were like a flood of water, poured, dissipated, and scattered, and which disappeared and came to nothing: and such is every foundation that a man builds his hope, especially of eternal happiness, upon, short of Christ, the only sure foundation laid in Zion, his person, grace, blood, and righteousness; everything else, let it seem ever so firm, is as sand, yea, as water, as a flood of water that spreads itself, and quickly comes to nothing.
(a) "ante tempus suum", V. L. Mercerus; "ante tempus", Cocceius, Schultens. (b) "Sine mora", Cocceius; "in momento", Codurcus. (c) "corrugati sunt", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Bolducius, Cocceius. (d) "fundamentum eorum ut flumen diffluxit", Tigurine version; "fluvius effusus fundamentum eorum", Codurcus, Beza; to the same sense Drusius, Mercerus, Cocceius, Schultens.
and what can the Almighty do for them? that is, for us; for these are either the words of the wicked continued, being so self-sufficient, and full of good things, having as much, or more, than heart can wish, that they stood in no need of anything from God; nor could they imagine they should receive any profit and advantage from him, by listening to his instructions, or obeying his will; they had such low and mean thoughts of God, that he would neither do them good nor evil; they expected no good from him, and feared no ill at his hands; they ascribed all the good things they had to their own care, industry, and diligence; and when any ill befell them, they attributed it to chance, and second causes, thinking nothing of God: as these are the words of Eliphaz, they may be rendered, "what has the Almighty done to them", or "against them?" (e) what injury has he done them, or ill will has he shown them, that they should treat him in so contemptuous a manner? so far from it, that he has bestowed abundance of good things on them, as follows, see Jeremiah 2:5.
(e) "et quid fecerat omnipotens illis?" Piscator.
but the counsel of the wicked is far from me; such impious reasonings, and wicked practices, he was far from justifying; he had them in the utmost detestation, and could not but abhor such vile ingratitude; he makes use of Job's words, Job 21:16; which he thought he could do to better purpose, and with greater sincerity.
and the innocent laugh them to scorn; such as are upright and sincere, live holy and harmless lives and conversations, though not entirely free from sin; these deride them for their impieties, and observe to them the justness of the divine judgments upon them. The Jewish writers, many of them (f), restrain these words to Noah and his sons, who saw with their eyes the flood that destroyed the world of the ungodly, and rejoiced at it, and in their turn had them in derision, who had made a mock at Noah's building of the ark, and at his exhortations to them; but though the characters of righteous and innocent agree with Noah, who was just and perfect in his generation, yet not with all his sons; and it is best to understand this of good men in general; though it must be observed and owned, that the destruction of the wicked by the flood is before spoken of, and their character described. The word "saying" is by some supplied at the close of this verse, and so the following words are what the righteous are represented as saying, upon sight of the destruction of the wicked.
(f) Aben Ezra, Ben Gersom, Sephorno, et alii.
but the remnant of them the fire consumes; which Aben Ezra, Ben Gersom, and others, interpret of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the other cities, by fire; which would have had some appearance of truth, if the destruction had been of the whole world, and as general as the flood was, or more so, and had cleared the world of the remnant of the ungodly, whereas it was only of a few cities: rather it may be Eliphaz glances at the case of Job, as different from him and his friends, that when their substance was untouched, the remnant of Job's was consumed by fire; what were left by the Chaldeans and Sabeans were destroyed by fire from heaven; though if it could be thought that Eliphaz had knowledge of the general conflagration at the last day, and had that in view, it would afford a better sense; but it may be he does not mean material, but metaphorical fire, the fire of divine wrath, which will consume the wicked, root and branch, and leave them nothing.
(g) "annon exscinditur qui insurgit contra nos", Schmidt, Michaelis.
thereby good shall come unto thee: temporal good things, necessary and convenient, the promise of which is annexed to godliness, or an acquaintance with God; spiritual good things, the blessings of grace, all things pertaining to life and godliness, and eternal good things; that far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, which afflictions, peaceably and patiently borne, work for and bring unto.
(h) Aben Ezra, Ben Gersom, Bar Tzemach.
and lay up his words in thine heart: as a rich treasure, very valuable, and preferable to gold, silver, and precious stones, laid up in chests and cabinets because of their value, and that they might not be lost, but be preserved safe and sure, and that they might be come at, and made use of on proper occasions; as the words of God and doctrines of the Scriptures may be, against the temptations of Satan, the lusts of the flesh, and for the instruction of ourselves and others; and therefore should be retained in our minds, hid in our hearts, and dwell richly in us; and, unless they are in the heart, and have a place there, they will be of little avail to have them in the head or on the tongue; but if they come with power into the heart, and have a place there, they work effectually, and influence the life and conversation: these Job had, and had a great value for them; see Job 6:10.
thou shalt be built up; restored to his former happiness, have all his breaches repaired and made up; his body, which was like a building out of repair and dropping down, become hale and healthful; his family, which was in a ruinous condition, being deprived of his children as well as substance, be increasing again through a like number of children; by which means families are built up, Ruth 4:16; and by having a large affluence of good things, abundantly greater than he had before; and also, in a spiritual sense, be edified and built up in his soul, through the light of God's countenance, the discoveries of his love, the comforts of his spirit, an application of precious promises, and divine truths, and a communication of grace, and the blessings of it:
thou shall put away iniquity far from thy tabernacle; not commit it himself, nor connive at it in others, nor suffer it in his family, suggesting as if he had so done in times past; or remove men of iniquity, wicked men, from his house, and not allow them to dwell there; though rather this seems to be spoken of by way of promise, and as an encouragement to return to the Almighty; upon which all evils and calamities, the effects of sin and iniquity, should be removed from his house, and the apartments of it, they were now full of.
and the gold of Ophir as the stones of the brooks; which was reckoned the best, probably in Arabia; not in the East and West Indies, which were not known to Job; though some take this to be an exhortation to despise riches, and as a dissuasion from covetousness, rendering the words, "put gold upon the dust", or earth (i), and trample upon it, as a thing not esteemed by thee, as Sephorno interprets it; make no more account of it than of the dust of the earth; let it be like dirt unto thee, "and among the stones of the brooks", Ophir (k); that is, the gold of Ophir, reckon no more of it, though the choicest gold, than the stones of the brook; or thus, "put gold for dust, and the gold of Ophir for the flint of the brooks" (l); esteem it no more than the dust of the earth, or as flint stones; the latter clause I should choose rather to render, "and for a flint the rivers of Ophir", or the golden rivers, from whence the gold of Ophir was; and it is notorious from historians, as Strabo (m) and others, that gold is taken out of rivers; and especially from the writers of the history of the West Indies (n).
(i) "pone aurum super pulverem", Codurcus; "in pulvere aurum", Cocceius; "abjice humi aurum", Beza; so Grotius. (k) "et inter saxa torrentium Ophir", Codurcus. (l) "Pro rupe aurum Ophirinum", Junius & Tremellius; so Schultens. (m) Geograph. l. 11. p. 344. (n) Pet. Martyr. Decad. 3. l. 4.
and thou shall have plenty of silver; or God shall be, or "let him be to thee silver of strength" (p); or instead of silver, which is the strength of men, in which they confide for business or war; but God is to his people infinitely more than what silver or gold can be to them.
(o) "lectissimum aurum tuum", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; so Vatablus, Schmidt, Schultens; so R. Sol. Urbin. Ohel Moed, fol. 23. 2.((p) "et argentum fortitudinum tibi", Montanus, Cocceius, Schmidt.
and shalt lift up thy face unto God; in prayer, as Sephorno interprets it, with an holy confidence, boldness, and cheerfulness; as a believer in Christ may, having on his righteousness, and having his heart sprinkled from an evil conscience by his blood; such an one can appear before God, and lift up his face to him, as without spot, so without confusion, shame, and blushing, without a load of guilt upon him, without fear of wrath or punishment, and of being repulsed; see Job 11:15.
and he shall hear thee; as he does hear those that pray to him in the name of Christ, in the exercise of faith, and in the sincerity and uprightness of their hearts; and answers their requests, fulfils their desires, and gives them what they ask of him; for he is a God hearing prayer, and sooner or later, in his own time and way, grants the petitions of his people:
and thou shalt pay thy vows; the sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving which he promised to offer up to God, should he grant him the desires of his heart; and these being granted, he would be laid under obligation to perform his promises; so that this also is to be considered as a benefit and blessing; for it does not so much regard the payment of vows, as it is designed to observe to him that he should have that done for him which would be a sufficient ground and reason for paying his vows, or making good what he promised in the time of his distress; since what he then requested, and was the condition of his vow, should now be granted; see Psalm 56:12.
and the light shall shine upon thy ways; which is the reason of all things prospering and succeeding, and being established according to his wish and will; the light of grace shining in him, to put him upon and instruct him in denying and avoiding that which is sinful, and doing that which was just and good; and the light of the word without him, being a light unto his feet, and a lamp to his paths, to guide and direct him, and especially the light of God's favour and blessing on him, succeeding him in all his ways and works, and making them prosperous.
then thou shall say, there is lifting up; that is, for himself and his; when others are in adversity, he should be in prosperity; when others are cast down into a very low estate and distressed condition, he should be exalted to a very high estate, and be in affluent circumstances, see Psalm 147:6; or else the sense is, when thou and thine, and what belong to thee, are humbled and brought low, then thou mayest promise thyself a restoration and change for the better; and boldly say, they will be lifted up, and raised up again, since God's usual method is to exalt the humble, and to abase the proud, Luke 14:11; or rather, this may respect the benefit and advantage that humble persons wound gain by Job, and his prayers for them, and may be rendered and interpreted thus: "when they have humbled" (q) themselves, and bowed themselves low at thy feet, and especially before God, "then thou shall say", pray unto God for them, that "there may be a lifting up", raising them up out of their low estate, and thou shall be heard:
and he shall save the humble person; that is, "low of eyes" (r), humble in his eyes; who is so pressed with troubles and distress, that he hangs down his head, looks upon the ground, and will not lift up his eyes, but is of a dejected countenance; or that is low in his own eyes, has humble thoughts of himself, esteems others better than himself, and lies low before God under a sense of his sinfulness and unworthiness, and casts himself entirely upon the grace and mercy of God; such an one he saves, in a spiritual sense, out of his troubles and afflictions; he does not forget the cry of such humble ones, but remembers them, and grants their desires: and he saves the lowly and humble with a spiritual and eternal salvation; gives more grace unto them, and outfits them for glory, and at last gives glory itself; raises them on high to sit among princes, and to inherit the throne of glory; the meek shall inherit the earth, the new heavens and earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness, James 4:6.
(q) "quum humiliaverint", Montanus, Cocceius, Michaelis. (r) "demissum oculis", Montanus, Beza, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "humilem oculis", Vatablus.