Reply of Job to Bildad.
2. I know it is so of a truth—that God
does not "pervert justice" (Job 8:3). But
(even though I be sure of being in the right) how can a mere man assert
his right—(be just) with God. The Gospel answers (Ro 3:26).
3. If he—God
will contend with him—literally,
"deign to enter into judgment."
he cannot answer, &c.—He (man)
would not dare, even if he had a thousand answers in readiness to one
question of God's, to utter one of them, from awe of His Majesty.
4. wise in heart—in
understanding!—and mighty in power! God confounds the ablest
arguer by His wisdom, and the mightiest by His power.
hardened himself—or his neck (Pr 29:1); that is, defied God. To prosper,
one must fall in with God's arrangements of providence and grace.
5. and they know not—Hebrew for
"suddenly, unexpectedly, before they are aware of it" (Ps 35:8); "at unawares"; Hebrew, which
"he knoweth not of" (Joe 2:14; Pr 5:6).
6. The earth is regarded, poetically, as
resting on pillars, which tremble in an earthquake (Ps 75:3; Isa
24:20). The literal truth as
to the earth is given (Job 26:7).
7. The sun, at His command, does not rise;
namely, in an eclipse, or the darkness that accompanies earthquakes
sealeth up the stars—that is, totally
covers as one would seal up a room, that its contents may not be
8. spreadeth out—(Isa 40:22; Ps
104:2). But throughout it is
not so much God's creating, as His governing, power over nature that is
set forth. A storm seems a struggle between Nature and her Lord!
Better, therefore, "Who boweth the heavens alone," without help
of any other. God descends from the bowed-down heaven to the earth
18:9). The storm, wherein the
clouds descend, suggests this image. In the descent of the vault of
heaven, God has come down from His high throne and walks majestically
over the mountain waves (Hebrew, "heights"), as a conqueror
taming their violence. So "tread upon" (De 33:29; Am 4:13; Mt
14:26). The Egyptian
hieroglyphic for impossibility is a man walking on waves.
9. maketh—rather, from the
Arabic, "covereth up." This accords better with the context,
which describes His boundless power as controller rather than as
Arcturus—the great bear, which always
revolves about the pole, and never sets. The Chaldeans and Arabs, early
named the stars and grouped them in constellations; often travelling
and tending flocks by night, they would naturally do so, especially as
the rise and setting of some stars mark the distinction of seasons.
Brinkley, presuming the stars here
mentioned to be those of Taurus and Scorpio, and that these were the
cardinal constellations of spring and autumn in Job's time, calculates,
by the precession of equinoxes, the time of Job to be eight hundred
eighteen years after the deluge, and one hundred eighty-four before
Orion—Hebrew, "the fool"; in
38:31 he appears fettered
with "bands." The old legend represented this star as a hero, who
presumptuously rebelled against God, and was therefore a fool, and was
chained in the sky as a punishment; for its rising is at the stormy
period of the year. He is Nimrod (the exceedingly impious rebel) among
the Assyrians; Orion among the Greeks. Sabaism (worship of the heavenly
hosts) and hero-worship were blended in his person. He first subverted
the patriarchal order of society by substituting a chieftainship based
on conquest (Ge 10:9, 10).
Pleiades—literally, "the heap of
stars"; Arabic, "knot of stars." The various names of this
constellation in the East express the close union of the stars in it
chambers of the south—the unseen
regions of the southern hemisphere, with its own set of stars, as
distinguished from those just mentioned of the northern. The true
structure of the earth is here implied.
10. Repeated from Eliphaz (Job 5:9).
11. I see him not: he passeth on—The
image is that of a howling wind (Isa 21:1). Like it when it bursts invisibly upon
man, so God is felt in the awful effects of His wrath, but is
not seen (Joh 3:8).
Therefore, reasons Job, it is impossible to contend with Him.
12. If "He taketh away," as in my case all
that was dear to me, still a mortal cannot call Him to account. He only
takes His own. He is an absolute King (Ec 8:4; Da 4:35).
13. If God—rather, "God will not
withdraw His anger," that is, so long as a mortal obstinately resists
the proud helpers—The arrogant, who
would help one contending with the Almighty, are of no avail against
14. How much less shall I? &c.—who
am weak, seeing that the mighty have to stoop before Him. Choose words
(use a well-chosen speech, in order to reason) with Him.
15. (Job 10:15). Though I were conscious of no sin, yet
I would not dare to say so, but leave it to His judgment and mercy to
justify me (1Co 4:4).
16, 17. would I not believe that he had hearkened
unto my voice—who breaketh me (as a tree stripped of its
leaves) with a tempest.
takes these as the words of God, translating, "What availeth the might
of the strong?" "Here (saith he) behold! what availeth justice? Who
will appoint me a time to plead?" (So Jer 49:19). The last words certainly apply better
to God than to Job. The sense is substantially the same if we make "me"
apply to Job. The "lo!" expresses God's swift readiness for battle when
20. it—(Job 15:6; Lu 19:22); or "He," God.
21. Literally, here (and in Job 9:20), "I perfect! I should not know my soul!
I would despise," [that is], "disown my life"; that is, Though
conscious of innocence, I should be compelled, in contending with the
infinite God, to ignore my own soul and despise my past life as if it
were guilty [Rosenmuller].
22. one thing—"It is all one; whether
perfect or wicked—He destroyeth." This was the point Job
maintained against his friends, that the righteous and wicked alike are
afflicted, and that great sufferings here do not prove great
guilt (Lu 13:1-5; Ec 9:2).
23. If—Rather, "While (His) scourge
slays suddenly (the wicked, Job 9:22), He
laughs at (disregards; not derides) the pining away of the innocent."
The only difference, says Job, between the innocent and guilty is, the
latter are slain by a sudden stroke, the former pine away
gradually. The translation, "trial," does not express the
antithesis to "slay suddenly," as "pining away" does [Umbreit].
24. Referring to righteous "judges," in
antithesis to "the wicked" in the parallel first clause, whereas the
wicked oppressor often has the earth given into his hand, the righteous
judges are led to execution—culprits had their faces covered
preparatory to execution (Es 7:8). Thus
the contrast of the wicked and righteous here answers to that in Job 9:23.
if not, where and who?—If God be
not the cause of these anomalies, where is the cause to
be found, and who is he?
25. a post—a courier. In the wide
Persian empire such couriers, on dromedaries or on foot, were employed
to carry the royal commands to the distant provinces (Es 3:13, 15;
8:14). "My days" are not like
the slow caravan, but the fleet post. The "days" are themselves
poetically said to "see no good," instead of Job in them (1Pe 3:10).
26. swift ships—rather, canoes of reeds
or papyrus skiffs, used on the Nile, swift from their lightness (Isa 18:2).
28. The apodosis to Job 9:27—"If I say, &c." "I still am
afraid of all my sorrows (returning), for I know that thou wilt (dost)
(by removing my sufferings) not hold or declare me innocent. How then
can I leave off my heaviness?"
29. The "if" is better omitted; I (am treated
by God as) wicked; why then labor I in vain (to disprove His charge)?
Job submits, not so much because he is convinced that God is
right, as because God is powerful and he weak
30. snow water—thought to be more
cleansing than common water, owing to the whiteness of snow (Ps 51:7;
never so clean—Better, to answer to
the parallelism of the first clause which expresses the cleansing
material, "lye:" the Arabs used alkali mixed with oil, as soap (Ps
73:13; Jer 2:22).
32. (Ec 6:10; Isa 45:9).
33. daysman—"mediator," or "umpire"; the
imposition of whose hand expresses power to adjudicate between the
persons. There might be one on a level with Job, the one party; but Job
knew of none on a level with the Almighty, the other party (1Sa 2:25). We Christians know of such a
Mediator (not, however, in the sense of umpire) on a level with
both—the God-man, Christ Jesus (1Ti 2:5).
34. rod—not here the symbol of
punishment, but of power. Job cannot meet God on fair terms so
long as God deals with him on the footing of His almighty power.
35. it is not so with me—As it now is,
God not taking His rod away, I am not on such a footing of equality as
to be able to vindicate myself.