the words of Job are ended; which is either said by himself, at the close of his speech; thus far says Job, and no farther, having said enough in his own defence, and for the confutation of his antagonists, and so closes in a way of triumph: or else this was added by Moses, supposed to have written this book; or by some other hand, as Ezra, upon the revision of it, and other books of the Old Testament, when put in order by him: and these were the last words of Job to his friends, and in vindication of himself; for though there is somewhat more said afterwards by him, and but little, yet to God, and by way of humiliation, acknowledging his sin, and repentance for it with shame and abhorrence; see Job 40:3. Jarchi, and so the Midrash, understand this concluding clause as all imprecation of Job's; that if he had done otherwise than he had declared, he wishes that these might be his last words, and he become dumb, and never open his mouth more; but, as Bar Tzemach observes, the simple sense is, that his words were now completed and finished, just as the prayers of David, the son of Jesse, are said to be, Psalm 72:20.
(d) Bar Tzemach, et alii. (e) "herba foetens", Montanus, Bolducius; "spina foetida", Drusius; "vitium frugum", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "labrusca", Cocceius, Schultens.
INTRODUCTION TO Job 32
Job's three friends being silenced, and having no more to say in reply to him, Elihu, of whose descent some account is given, a bystander and hearer of the whole dispute between them, rises up as a moderator, and expresses some anger both against them and Job, Job 32:1; he makes an apology for engaging in this controversy, by reason of his youth, and they being advanced in years, Job 32:6; but since there is a spirit in man, that gives understanding to men of every age, and old men are not always wise, he desires they would hearken to him while he delivered his sentiments on the subject in debate, Job 32:8; and hopes to be heard patiently, since he had waited until they had said all they had to say, and had closely attended to it, and which fell short of convincing Job; and this he was obliged to say, lest they should be wise in their own conceit, and attribute that to men which belongs to God, Job 32:11; he proposes to take a new method with Job, different from theirs; and now they hearing all this from a young man, they were filled with amazement, and struck with silence; and after he had waited a while to observe whether they would say anything or not, he determined to take his turn, and show his opinion also, Job 32:14; and the rather because he was full of arguments, he was desirous to propose them, and was uneasy until he had brought them out; and which he was resolved to do with all impartiality and integrity, Job 32:18.
because he was righteous in his own eyes; some take this to express the state of the question between them, rendering the words, "that he was righteous", &c. (f). The notion his friends had of him was, that he was righteous in his own account, and as he professed to be, and might so seem to others; but was a wicked man, and an hypocrite, as his afflictions showed; this point they had been labouring to prove, but, upon Job's long and clear vindication of his integrity, they ceased to defend it: others suppose the words to be an inference of Job's from their silence: "therefore he was righteous", &c. they making no reply to him, he concluded himself to be quit and clear of the charge they had brought against him; but they rather, according to our version, contain a reason why they ceased to answer him; because they thought him self-conceited, self-willed, obstinate, and incorrigible; not open to conviction, stiffly insisting on his own innocence, not allowing that he was guilty of any sin or sins, which were the cause of his afflictions; otherwise, in the article of justification before God, Job was no self-righteous man, nor was he so charged by his friends; to say he was is to abuse his character, and is contrary to that which God himself has given of him; nor would he have so highly commended him as to suggest there was none like him on earth, when of all men in the world there are none more abominable to God than a self-righteous man; see Isaiah 65:4. It is contrary to Job's knowledge of and faith in Christ, as his living Redeemer, Job 19:25; and to many clear and strong expressions, confessing his sin, disclaiming perfection, and declaring himself no self-justiciary, Job 7:20.
(f) "quod ille (tantum) justus in oculis suis", Schmidt.
of the kindred of Ram; according to the Targum, of the kindred of Abraham, in which it is followed by other Jewish writers (h); and some even take him to be Isaac, the son of Abraham (i); Aben Ezra thinks he is the same with Ram the father of Amminadab, Ruth 4:19; but he is abundantly too late for this man to be of his kindred; others take him to be the same with Aram, the son of Kemuel, a brother of Buz, Genesis 22:21; these names being used for one another, either by adding or removing a letter; see Matthew 1:3; compared with Ruth 4:19;
against Job was his wrath kindled, because he justified himself rather than God; not that he made himself more just than God, he could never think or say so, see Job 4:17; nor that he was just before him or by him; for he was so in an evangelic, though not in a legal sense; and Elihu would not have been displeased with him for asserting that; he did not deny that Job was a righteous man in the sight of God; nor that he was righteous, and in the right in the sight of God, with respect to the controversy between him and his friends; nor did he blame him for justifying himself from their charges; but that he justified himself "more" than God; so the Jewish writers (k) generally render it: he spent more time, and insisted longer on his own justification than upon the justification of God in the dealings of his providence with him; he was more careful of his own character and reputation than he was of the honour of God, and the glory of his justice; he said more for himself than he did for God; and this displeased Elihu; it gave this good man some concern, that, though Job did not directly charge God with unrighteousness in his dealings with him, yet by consequence; and he expressed himself in such language that would bear such a construction, whether it was his real sense or not; and to hear him complain so heavily of God, and at the same time enlarge so much on his own innocence, and to importune in so bold and daring a manner to have a hearing of his cause; these things being observed by Elihu, raised his choler and indignation.
(g) T. Hieros. Sotah, fol. 20. 4. Hieron. Quaest. seu Traditiones in Gen. fol. 69. D. so Bolducius. (h) Jarchi, Bar Tzemach, &c. (i) T. Hieros. Sotah, fol. 20. 4. (k) Jarchi, Aben Ezra. Ben Gersom.
because they had found no answer; they were at a loss for one, for a sufficient one; they had all of them been answering him in their turns again and again, but with nothing to the purpose, not with anything conclusive and convincing; and particularly they could find and give no answer to Job's last vindication of himself:
and yet had condemned Job; as a very wicked man, and an hypocrite, for no other reason but because he was afflicted; and they still persisted in their sentiment, though Job had so fully cleared himself, and put them to entire silence; this exasperated Elihu, to observe these men to retain so unreasonable a sentiment, to pronounce such a rash sentence, and yet could make no reply to Job's defence of himself. Jarchi says, this place is one of the corrections of the Scribes, it having been formerly written "God" instead of "Job"; as if the sense was, that Elihu was provoked with them, because by their silence they had condemned the Lord, not vindicating his honour and glory as became them; but Aben Ezra declares his ignorance of that correction, and observes, that they that say so knew what was hid from him.
because they were elder than he; it may be added, from the original text, "in", or "as two days" (l); they had lived longer in the world than he, and therefore did not take upon him to speak till they had done; he, as became a young man, was swift to hear, and slow to speak; that they were old men, appears from what Eliphaz says, Job 15:10.
(l) "diebus", Beza, Montanus, Mercerus; "quod ad dies", Schultens.
then his wrath was kindled; his spirit was stirred up; his heart was hot within him; he burned with anger against those men; he was all on fire, as it were, and wanted to vent his resentment.
I am young, and ye are very old; or "few of days"; a few days, comparatively speaking, had he lived in the world; or "small", or "little as two days" (m); he had been but a little time in it, and so could be thought to have but little knowledge and experience; whereas they were old, even very old; with them were the aged and the grayheaded, Job 15:10; in whom it might have been expected was much wisdom and knowledge:
wherefore I was afraid, and durst not show mine opinion; declare what knowledge he had of the things in dispute, lest it should appear mean, small, and contemptible; or give his sentiments concerning them, lest he should speak wrongly, and not only give offence, but do more harm than good: the first of these words, in the Arabic language (n), as Aben Ezra observes, signifies to go back; it is used of worms, which, through fear, withdraw themselves from men; so mean an opinion had he of himself, and such a sense of his own weakness, that it not only kept him back, but even caused him to draw back, and keep out of the dispute, and at a distance from it, instead of being forward to engage in it: one Jewish commentator (o) paraphrases it
"I humbled myself as one that goes on his belly;''
referring to worms that go low and creep upon their belly, or to the prostrate posture of men that humble themselves to their superiors.
(m) "minimus ego diebus", Montanus; "parvus diebus sum", Mercerus. (n) "recessit suo loco", Castel. col. 1036. (o) Sephorno.
and multitude of years should teach wisdom; that is, such over whom many have passed; these it may be thought, having had an opportunity of making their observation on things, and of increasing experience, and of treasuring up a stock of knowledge, they should be very capable of, and indeed the only fit persons to teach others wisdom; either natural wisdom, or the knowledge of natural things; or divine wisdom, the knowledge of God, of his perfections and providences; and inward, spiritual, and evangelical wisdom, which lies in the knowledge of a man's self; in the knowledge of God in Christ; in the knowledge of Christ and of the Gospel of Christ, and the truths of it: this was a sentiment Elihu had entertained of ancient men, and this had restrained him from entering sooner into this debate between Job and his friends; they all being his superiors in age, and, as from thence he judged, in wisdom and knowledge also.
and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding; not the soul of man, or breath of God inspired by him, which is the candle of the Lord, searching the inward parts of men; for that leaves him without understanding of things of the greatest importance: rather, as the Targum, the Word of God, the essential Word, the Son of God, who gives an understanding of the best things, 1 John 5:20; but, better, the Spirit of God, by whom the Scriptures were inspired, and who is breathed into men, John 20:22; and is a spirit of understanding to them; for though a man has an understanding of natural things, yet not of things spiritual; to have an understanding of them is the special gift of God, and is in particular the work of the Spirit of God: Elihu now having some reason to believe that he had the Spirit of God, and was under his inspiration, and was favoured with knowledge and understanding by him, is encouraged, though young, to interpose in this dispute between Job and his friends, and declare his opinion on the matter in debate; and which leads him to make an observation somewhat different from his former sentiment, as follows.
(p) So Vatablus, Beza.
neither do the aged understand judgment; what is right and wrong, the difference between truth and error, and particularly the judgments of God, which are unsearchable, and his ways past finding out; even so to understand them as to observe and acknowledge his sovereignty, wisdom, truth, and faithfulness in them.
(q) Sept. "longaevi", V. L. Mr. Broughton renders it, "as men of not great time may be wise, as the old understand the right."
I also will show mine opinion; for though for a while he was timorous and fearful of doing it, lest he should mistake and expose himself, yet having duly weighed and considered the above things, he was determined to do it.
I gave ear to your reasons, or "understandings" (r); endeavoured to get into the sense and meaning of their words; not only attended to what they did say, but to what he thought they meant to say: some are not so happy in their expressions; and yet, by what they do say, with close attention it may be understood what they aim at, what is their drift and design; this Elihu was careful to attain unto, not barely to hear their words, but penetrate, if possible, into their meaning:
whilst ye searched out what to say; for they did not make their replies to Job immediately, and say what came uppermost at once, but they took time to think of things, and to search out for the most forcible arguments to refute Job, and strengthen their cause; it is very probable they made a pause at the end of every speech of Job's, and considered what was proper to be said in reply, and, perhaps, consulted each other.
(r) "usque ad intellignetias vestras", Pagninus, Montanus, Cocceius, Schultens; "usque ad sensa vestra", Beza, Junius & Tremellius.
and, behold, there was none of you that convinced Job; which was not owing to his obstinacy, but to want of proof in them, their words and arguments; they had charged Job highly, as particularly Eliphaz, Job 22:5; but then they failed in their proof; they produced nothing to support their allegations:
or that answered his words; the arguments and reasons he gave in proof of his own innocence and uprightness, or the instances he produced, showing that God often afflicted good men, and suffered the wicked to prosper; and therefore no argument could be drawn from God's dealings with men, proving they were either of this or the other character, good or bad men.
God thrusteth him down, not man: some think Elihu says this in reference to himself, whom God would make use of as an instrument to convince Job and answer his arguments; and that he would ascribe this not to himself, but to God; they took a natural way to convince Job, which failed, that they might not be proud of their own wisdom; he should take a more divine and spiritual method, and, if he succeeded, he should give all the glory to God, and ascribe nothing to himself: as in the conviction and conversion of a sinner, though ministers are instruments, it is not by might or power of men, but by the Spirit of the Lord of Hosts; it is God that thrusts down man from a vain opinion he has of himself; that convinces him of sin, that takes him off of his own righteousness, and humbles him, and lays him low at his feet: but they rather seem to be the words of Job's friends, as related by Elihu; and the sense is in connection with the former, either that they found it was the wisest method they could take with Job to be silent, and leave him to himself, lest they should add to his afflict; on; to which Jarchi inclines, who paraphrases it,
"we found wisdom by our silence, that we may not provoke him any more;''
which, if their sense, shows more tenderness and compassion than they had hitherto expressed, and answers pretty much to the advice given 2 Corinthians 2:6; or else their meaning is, that they found it the best and wisest way to leave him with God, he being so obstinate and incorrigible that none but God could move him; it was not in the power of men, or of words used by men, to make him sensible of things; or rather the meaning is, Elihu was obliged to tell them, that none of them had convinced Job, or answered his arguments, lest they should say, we have found out a wise and strong argument, proving the charge brought against him, that he must be a wicked man and an hypocrite, since God has so sorely afflicted him, and thrust him down from all his grandeur and dignity; which no man could ever have done, and God would not, if he had not been the man we suppose him to be; now Elihu's view is to observe to them, that there was nothing in this argument convincing, in which they imagined so much wisdom lay. Job's afflictions, indeed, were of God, and not men; and which he often owns himself; but this was no proof or argument of his being a wicked man: Mr. Broughton renders the words,
"the Omnipotent doth toss him, not man.''
neither will I answer him with your speeches; he proposed to take a new and different method from them, as he did; for he never charges Job with any sin or sins, or a course of living in a sinful manner, before those afflictions came upon him, and as the cause of them; he only takes notice of what was amiss in him since his afflictions, and what dropped from him in the heat of this controversy, rash and unbecoming speeches, which reflected upon the honour and justice of God; and if he made use of any words and arguments similar to theirs, yet to another purpose, and in a milder and gentler manner.
they answered no more; as they had ceased to answer Job, they did not undertake to answer Elihu, who had plainly told them their arguments were not convincing, their answers were no answers, and that they had done a wrong thing in condemning Job without proof; and that which they thought their greatest wisdom, and strongest argument, had no wisdom nor strength in it; namely, which was taken from his sore afflictions by the hand of God:
they left off speaking; or words departed from them, as Jarchi; their speech left them, they seemed deprived of it: Mr. Broughton renders the whole,
"they shrink away, do speak no more, speeches be departed from them.''
for they spake not; were as mute as fishes:
but stood still; like statues, had no power to move, neither to sit down nor to depart, but were as if all life, sense, and motion, were gone from them:
and answered no more; or not at all; for it does not appear that they had given him any answer before, as well as not now.
I also will show mine opinion; knowledge, or sentiment; this for a while he was fearful of doing, but, upon a thorough and serious consideration of things, he determined upon it, and now repeats it, to assure he would do it; the reasons of which follow.
the spirit within me constraineth me, or "the spirit of my belly" (z); alluding to wind pent up therein, which, unless expelled, gives great uneasiness and pain: he either means the Spirit of God within him, as in Job 32:8, by whom the prophets were inspired and spoke, by whom ordinary ministers of the word are qualified for their work, and by whom they are led into all truth, and who presses and obliges them to speak what they know; there is a necessity upon them to preach the Gospel wholly and faithfully, and a woe unto them if they do not: or else his own spirit, influenced and actuated by the Spirit of God; as the spirit of the Apostle Paul was stirred up in him to speak, when he saw the idolatry and superstition of the people of Athens, Acts 17:16; so love to God and Christ, and the souls of men, the honour of God, and interest of religion, constrain the ministers of Christ to speak in his name, notwithstanding all the opposition made unto them, and reproach cast upon them.
(y) "plenus sum sermonibus", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version, Beza, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (z) "spiritus ventris mei", Beza, Junius & Tremellius, Cocceius, Schultens.
"as new wine, which is not opened:''
in the same manner Jarchi and Bar Tzemach interpret it; in these words Elihu illustrates, by a metaphor taken from new wine put into bottles and tightly stopped, what he had before more literally and properly expressed, and so in the following clause:
it is ready to burst like new bottles; or perhaps it may be better rendered, "like bottles of new wine" (b); for new bottles are not so apt to burst as old ones, and especially when they have new wine in them; the bottles of the ancients, and in the eastern countries, being made of skin, which better agrees with what our Lord says, Matthew 9:17; by his belly he means his mind, which was full of matter, and that matter he compares to new wine in bottles, tightly stopped, which need vent, and are in danger of bursting: the doctrine of the Gospel is like to wine, Sol 7:9; to wine neat and clean, being free from all human mixtures; to wine of a good flavour and pleasant taste, as the Gospel is to those whose taste is changed; to generous wine, which revives, and refreshes, and comforts; all which effects the doctrines of the Gospel have, when attended with a divine influence: and it may be compared to new wine; not that it is a new and upstart doctrine, it is the everlasting Gospel, made known immediately on the fall of Adam, and was ordained before the world for our glory; but because it is newly, or of late, under the Gospel dispensation, more clearly revealed: ministers of the word are like vessels, into which it is put; they are but vessels, even earthly vessels, and have nothing but what is put into them; and they are like vessels stopped up, when they are straitened in themselves, or shut up by the Lord, that they cannot come forth freely in their ministry, and when any outward restraint is laid upon them by persecuting magistrates, and when there is no open door for them in Providence; which gives them great pain and uneasiness, and, let the consequence be what it will, they are weary of forbearing, and cannot stay, but must speak the things they see and know; see Jeremiah 20:9.
(a) "quod non est apertum", Pagninus, Michaelis, Schultens. (b) "sicut utres vino nova repleti", Piscator.
I will open my lips and answer; speak freely and boldly what was upon his mind, and he had to say, and which he judged would be a sufficient answer to Job; the opening of his lips is a phrase used by him in allusion to the opening of a bottle, full of new wine, the metaphor before expressed by him.
neither let me give flattering titles unto men; he does not mean titles of civil honour and respect, which belong to men, and are in common use among men, according to the different stations of life, men are in; for honour is to be given to whom it is due; and it is no piece of flattery to give men their proper and usual titles, as it was not in the Evangelist Luke, and in the Apostle Paul, Luke 1:3; but he means such titles that do not belong to men, and are unsuitable unto them, and only given them by way of flattery; as to call a man wise and prudent when he is the reverse; or a holy, just, and good man, when he is a very wicked one. Elihu was resolved not to act such a part, and he hopes the persons he had to deal with would not take it amiss that he spake his mind plainly and freely, and called a spade a spade; not must they or any other expect to be complimented by him with the characters of wise and prudent, just and good, if they did not appear to him to be so. According to Ben Gersom the sense is, that he would not hide a man's name under epithets, but call him by his proper name; he would not do as they had done by Job, who, under covert names, meant him; as when they described a wicked man, and an hypocrite, designed him, but did not say so express words; now Elihu suggests, that, should Job or they appear to him to have acted a wrong part, he should tell them plainly of it, and say, thou art the man.