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"to show him if there might be some unknown evil thing in him," that thus he might be "led in the way everlasting." They might have urged him, as the calmer Elihu afterwards did, to regard afflictions, however sore, as sent in love for some mysterious good of discipline or purification. But it is not at all probable that they would have charged him with crimes, had they not been led to do so in consequence of the seeming profanity of his violent language, and his own apparent criminations of the divine justice. This first explains the doubt; and then the increasing harshness of their imputations is the natural consequence of the controversial spirit engendered, becoming the more personal, paradoxical as it may seem, in proportion as it becomes more dogmatic and abstract. Yet still the opening language of Eliphaz is that of a true friend-a pious friend who wished to sooth the sufferer, and yet mildly rebuke his violently complaining spirit. Together with astonishment and compassion, it manifests a tender diffidence which is very finely expressed in Dr. Conant's translation: "Should one venture a word to thee; wilt thou be offended? but who can forbear speaking?" It seems to come after a silence occasioned by a subsidence in the great anguish. There had been, too, a sort of cadence in Job's language which lets us into the interior of the man, showing that his former state, though outwardly fair and prosperous, was not free from spiritual trouble: "I was not at ease, I was not tranquil, I was not at rest, yet trouble came" (iii. 26). There was something strange about the case; yet the words of Eliphaz, that follow, are far from crimination, or even suspicion. It is the gentlest of reproofs, reminding him of what he himself had done to others in similar cases of suffering, and counselling him now to do the same for his own support and consolation: "Lo Thou hast admonished many: Thou hast strengthened the feeble hands; Thy words have confirmed the faltering." Surely this testifies to a belief in Job's previous reputation for benevolence and piety. Nothing could be farther from the spirit of the harsh charges that seem to be made by this same Eliphaz, xxii. 5-10. "Thou hast comforted many" it is the mildest of rebukes, if it be a rebuke at all-"but now it comes to thee, and thou faintest; it toucheth thee, and thou art confounded. Is not thy religion thy confidence (so, should be rendered); thy hope, is it not the uprightness of thy ways?" Job's character for integrity is remembered and admitted, with the intimation that he should now derive comfort from the thought. Keeping before us this most natural view of Eliphaz's attempt to comfort, we have the key to what follows. It was not received as it should have been; and hence the beginning of that personal controversy which arose, in a great measure, from Job's violent retorts. He begins it; although he has the better of them afterwards, when the polemical spirit, thus aroused, has driven them far from the sympathy they came to express.
Had it not been for the effect produced upon our minds by this latter turn, or had this speech of Eliphaz stood alone, we should have carried with us a different feeling, resulting in a different style of interpretation. The words that follow would have appeared to us in another light: "Remember now"-consider your own experience, try and recall a case — "when has the innocent perished?" The perfectly innocent, some would say in order to soften the imputation, but the emphasis is on the word . The use of it is consistent not only with the belief, but even the firm persuasion, of Job's comparative guiltiness, and the hope of his speedy restoration after a temporary trial. 72 is an extreme word of perdition. Here, especially, as the spirit of the context, and its association with that other strong term very clearly show, it denotes a final, irrecoverable doom. It is suggested by the idea intimated above, that Job should not forget his religion, his confidence in God, but should derive a pure comfort from the thought of "the uprightness of his ways." God does not mean to destroy you; you shall not utterly sink under this trouble; all will come right at last. Such is the spirit of the appeal. Good men may suffer affliction, but where have you known the innocent to perish? "Therefore, hope thou in God; for thou shalt yet praise Him, who is the salvation of thy face (thine open salvation), and thy God." There is nothing forced in such a view. There may have been a want of appreciation of Job's extreme suffering, such as an outside comforter would find it difficult to conceive, but it seems the best thing that he could do, and the best advice he could offer him under the circumstances,
It is confirmed by the repetition of the question in language still more emphatic, and intended to be still more assuring: "When were the righteous cut off (1)*)—finally cut off? Cheer up, therefore, give not way to despair, God will not forsake thee."
It is not a questioning of Job's righteousness, but an assuming of it, in fact, as the ground on which he should yet exercise hope in the divine restoring goodness. The remark, however, here as well as elsewhere, leads to an enlargement on the doom of the wicked man: but any application of this to Job would be inconsistent with the evident assumptions of the context. This doom of the wicked is not thy doom. He has no fear (no religion), no hope as thou hast. Severe as may be thy pains, thy case is very different from that of the men "who plough iniquity and reap mischief." Thou shalt not perish as those "roaring lions" of evil. He who "breaks their teeth" shall bind up thy wounds. Therefore, hope Then follows that sublime account of the spiritual appearance, and the moral lesson it brings from the unearthly sphere, so different from the gabble which the modern naturalizing "Spiritualism" would have given us in its stead, as has been before remarked. It is still that grand theism, presented all alone, and in its ineffable purity, as intended to precede all other articles of faith-God's personal being, and His immeasurable holiness: “Shall a man (, weak mortal man) be just with God? Shall a man (7, the strongest and most confident man) be pure before his Maker?" He had indeed given Job credit for uprightness; he had clearly intimated that he might and ought to find comfort in the remembrance; but here comes the vision of the night, the solemn, sober, second thought,that there is something far more holy than our best righteousness, high as that may seem when a man compares himself with other men, or any standard of human ethics. It is an intimation that even Job, with all his uprightness, and though fully corresponding to that charming account given of his moral character in the prologue, cannot yet so stand upon his righteousness as to cry out against suffering- -even extreme suffering-as though it were a strange injustice. Far different, indeed, is his case from that of those "lions" of iniquity to whom Eliphaz alludes,-those utterly Godless transgressors to whom their utter perdition is but a "reaping of what they have sown;" but still he is not righteous, he is not pure before God.
Increasing Severity-Cause of it-Mutual Recriminations-Note on the Atrocious Charges of ch. xxii.
Such is a fair interpretation of this fourth chapter. As uttered in a similar spirit, must we regard much of the language of the fifth; although, probably from some signs of impatience in Job, it seems to increase in severity: "Call now; is there any one who will answer thee" whilst indulging in such extravagant appeals? Who of the Holy Ones can listen to thy imprecatory language? "It is the foolish (evil) man whom wrath slayeth; it is the simple man whom envy killeth." The noun, P, could be better rendered jealousy. It furnishes the key to the train of thought, or the view Eliphaz took of Job's state of mind, as complaining of God, because men manifestly wicked had lived and died more free from pain than himself. Though the language be dark, and full of a passionate abruptness, such seems to be the meaning of what he had said, iii. 14-17, about "kings and counsellors" who, after lives of uninterrupted prosperity, have lain down beneath their costly monuments, leaving their houses full of treasure. Why could he not have "so lain down,"‡ at the end of
The primary sense of
is abnegation,-treating a thing as though it was not, or casting it off as utterly false and vile. Hence in Hiphil it gets the sense of putting out of sight (apaviet, which is used in the Greek to denote extreme destruction), exstirpavit, delevit. The Niphal is passive of Hiphil. See its strong sense, Exod. xxiii. 3; Zech. xi. 8.
† More just than God, more pure, etc. So our translation and Luther have it, with which Dr. Conant agrees. The Vulgate, Dei comparatione. Umbreit, Ewald, Delitzsch, Dillmann, Merx, Rosenmüller, et al., reject the idea of 1, comparative, and regard it as equivalent to Dy, xxv. 4; Coram Deo, and in Numb. xxxii. 22; Jeremiah li. 5. The reasons are that the other rendering, "more just than God" would be an utterly extravagant thought, which no one would think of seriously holding. And yet it might be suggested by Job's bitter complainings.
‡ III. 13. "♫♪~': “I should have slept; then would there have been rest to me" to me, or even to me. The impersonal form with the preposition is emphatic. This feeling of distrust and jealousy is made more clear by what he says at the close about his want of rest, even in the day of his prosperity: "What he had somehow feared had come upon him," iii. 25.
an untroubled life, and "been at rest." To correct this murmuring jealousy, Eliphaz insisis upon what his own experience had taught him to the contrary: "I have myself seen the wicked taking root, but soon I cursed his habitation" (his seemingly undisturbed stability). I have seen what followed them, the ruin of their posterity, the restorations they were compelled to make. He is not here charging Job with personal crimes, but cautioning him— and surely there was need of it-against being led into complaints of God as one who lets the wicked live and prosper, and die, at last, without any "bands (dolores, Ps. lxxiii. 4) in their death." This experience of Eliphaz was true. There is a Vergeltungslehre. God does not let the wicked ultimately prosper, even in this world. During their own lives, and in their posterity after them, this general law of the divine government receives its manifestation. Job's mere groaning under his misery as something inexplicable, is very different from the feeling which suggests such comparisons, as though there were really no God ruling in the earth, and all things happened alike to all, or, what is worse, God actually favors unrighteousness. He himself, Job seems to say, with all his uprightness, was in fact more miserable, had a more grievous lot, than those wicked tyrants. It was this NP, or envy, that was killing him. So it seemed to Eliphaz, and it is enough in interpreting that the idea furnishes the clue to the train of thought. God's favoring the wicked, or suffering them to go with impunity, is very different from the idea that he may send suffering, explained or unexplained, upon the comparatively righteous-Eliphaz is here repelling the former idea.
Some similar view may be taken of most of the speeches of the friends in controversy.* They can be explained, or regarded as essentially modified, without supposing that, in the beginning, they had any thought of charging him with crime. That would have been wholly inconsistent with the friendly motive which brought them from their distant homes to mourn and weep with him. The story, it will thus be seen, is best interpreted by regarding it as an actual picture of actual life. But even artistic, or dramatic propriety would be grossly violated by such a preposterous fact, that they should, all of them, all at once, fall to making charges against him, not only so atrocious, but so motiveless and abrupt.
Even the harshest parts assume something of a different aspect when we thus take into view the origin and progress of the controversy. Many of these charges will appear to be essentially hypothetical. For it is clear that the friends of Job had no knowledge of any crimes that he had committed. In ch. xxii. Eliphaz seems to charge him directly with the most atrocious deeds. But the beginning of the chapter is evidently the repelling of the idea, on which Job seems strongly to insist, of a personal controversy, as it were, between him and God, or as one contending with him. It is not, as Eliphaz would seem to argue, such a personal contending whatever else it may be; for that could only be on account of some great sins which had truly roused the divine anger. This hypothetical view may be carried clear through the chapter: "Will He for fear of thee rebuke thee, or enter with thee into controversy? Is it not rather (), or would it not be rather, thy great evil, or for some great evil of thine?" So the Vulgate takes it as a hypothetical question instead of a direct charge: Numquid timens arguat te et non propter malitiam tuam plurimam; “Would it not be on account of thy wickedness, and because of thine iniquities numberless?" Thus stated, hypothetically, the that follows is specificative. Would it not be on account of thy numerous iniquities, namely, that thou hadst taken a pledge, that thou hadst stripped the naked, favored the mighty, and oppressed the widow, etc.! The manner of stating these crimes (the standing Bible examples of great wickedness) would also seem to show that the imputations were hypotheti cal, instead of direct. It may be a suspicion occasioned by Job's vehement complaints, but it would hardly seem to amount to anything stronger,-or a mere conjecture, as Cocceius regards it: "Nam fortassis pignus cepisti, etc.-conjecturaliter et disjunctive explico, nulla repugnante Grammatica, ne crudeliores sententias quam ipsi amici in Jobum cudam." Umbreit and Ewald express surprise at the particularity of these atrocious accusations, and wonder how Eliphaz came to the knowledge of them, but the charges themselves they would easily explain by their all-explaining Vergeltungslehre: Job suffered severely; therefore, he must have been an enormous sinner.
What soon follows shows that we must somehow modify the interpretation that makes these charges to be direct, or as something truly believed by the speaker: "Acquaint now thyself with Him (ver. 21), and be at peace" () give up this idea of a contention, or be composed. There is, indeed, a general exhortation to return to the Almighty, and put away evil; as it had also been said that he was in darkness and terror, on account of the spirit he showed (vers. 10, 11, 23). But it is not the kind of language we should expect to be used towards one who had robbed widows, and broken, the arms of orphans. Nothing less than unconditional repentance and restitution would have been thought of. But how different the advice of this reproving friend: (the Kal, ver. 3, an 1 denoting quieting, profitable intercourse) Here, in Hiphil, it is well rendered "acquaint thyself," be quiet before Gol, become familiar with Him, learn to think better of Him and His ways; "lay up His words in thy heart." It is addressed to one supposed to be in the wrong, yet still having some degree of favor with God, or, at least, one with whom God was not contending, as He contends with the hardened and atrocious sinner, so particularly described.
The Dispute turned into the Defensive on the Part of the Friends-Does God favor the Wicked?
In all the steps of the discussion, it will be discovered that it is not so much a disposition to impute actual crime to Job as to repel his seeming assaults upon their theoretical views of the divine justice. The question, whether afflictions may not come upon the righteous, is lost sight of in another which engages all their zeal: Does God favor the wicked? Does He let them prosper, and ultimately die in peace, as Job sometimes seems to assert? They strongly maintain the negative. This leads to the most vivid pictures of the doom that awaits an evil life. Job, not to be outdone, and not heeding his consistency,* is drawn to vie with them in the assertion of his own experience to the same effect. Sometimes they all seem to say very much the same thing, and then it is worthy of note how some commentators strive to give a good aspect to Job's language, and a bad look to theirs; all coming from the traditional assumption in regard to the judgment at the end of the Book. And their apparent recriminations may, in fact, be taken in two ways: Such is the doom of the wicked, the enormous evil-doers; but you, Job, are not one of them, although you are now behaving very wrongly; therefore, you may yet hope in God. Or it may be an actual imputation of crime. The first, as we have seen, may be the view taken of Eliphaz's early address; the second, as the effect produced by the exasperation of debate. It is thus they get themselves entangled in a question truly collateral, yet seemingly connected with the other and more important issue: Are sufferings, in themselves, evidence of crime? Why they are sent upon good men, or why they are permitted even, may remain a mystery; and that mystery, we think, is not solved or attempted to be solved in this Book of Job. But surely it is something quite different from the other thought, that God suffers the wicked to go with impunity, or makes no difference between them and His servants, even in this world.
The Didactic Value of the Speeches as Inspired Scripture.
The idea that the chief design of the Book is the decision of a debate has had an effect, more or less, in perverting its exposition. It all depends upon the view we take of the language used, ch. xlii. 7, and the object of its most immediate reference. Before dwelling on that, however, there may come in here a remark in respect to the value of the various speeches in their didactic use. It is true that, in a dramatic work, we look to the great lesson which it teaches as a whole; and in consistency with this, much of what is said may be regarded merely in its dramatic propriety, and not in its absolute didactic truth as uttered, more or less, by all the speakers. It may be a question, however, whether we can apply this strictly to a composition we deem inspired, or divinely given, even though there may be grounds for calling it dramatic. God may instruct us by this style of writing, as well as by other kinds to which we give the names, historical, poetical, parabolic, ethical, or even mythical, if the evidences of such, or such a kind of diction appear on the very face of it. Thus, Job may be said to contain internal evidence of a dramatic intent. It is not a mere collection of precepts, or lofty sayings, but a great spiritual action, a true praxis or drama, the instructiveness of which does not absolutely depend upon the precise truth, or exact moral value of every utterance that composes it. This is easily understood, and not to be dwelt upon. And yet the thought is not irrational, that such an inspired drama, or one that has a true divine authorship, and for a divine purpose, through whatever media it may have been composed, may be so written, so arranged, and so acted, as to combine both ideas, the dramatic and the preceptive. Even if we regard the speeches of Job's three friends as wrong in their applications, they may, nevertheless, form a body of
This appears especially in chapters xxi. and xxvii., where Job would seem to aim at surpassing them in this kind of painting. Sometimes the transition is quite sudden, as though he had felt he had gone too far in the opposite direction. The surprise occasioned by this has led to forced constructions. Thus, xxi. 17, some would render, “how seldom," or, "how often," with the implied idea of doubt, or with a sarcastic reference. This is contrary to the constant usage of, and Ps. lxxviii. 40, cited by Gesenius and Hupfeld, does not support it.
preceptive truth of the highest value, far beyond anything to be found in Seneca or Epictetus. In this view it may be said of each one of them, that they are Sacred "Scripture, profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for instruction in righteousness," or that they are divine words "most pure," as the Psalmist says, "like silver tried in an earthen vessel, and seven times purified." Thus regarding them, the practical expositor, and the preacher, may study them with confidence, as golden sentences containing golden truth, and which, when "opened up," as the old lovers of Scripture used to say, will furnish, each by themselves, most profitable themes of meditation. It would be difficult to point out a single utterance made by the three friends of Job that does not contain, in itself, such a golden thought, and worthy of a writing for which there is claimed a divine authorship. All ancient and modern books, Oriental or Occidental, will be searched in vain for a purer or loftier theism than that set forth in these speeches of Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. The same may be said of Job's language, when regarded as a calm utterance, or something more than a dramatic groan. His impassioned assertions of his integrity, his casting away of all false humility, his vehement expostulations with God, so almost terrifying us by their boldness: "Wilt Thou put in fear the driven leaf; wilt Thou pursue the withered chaff?"-all this may be regarded even with reverence as viewed from the stand-point of the sufferer. There is no cant about Job; no affected piety; no mere sentimentality; no cold and showy theorizing. All this seeming irreverence, nevertheless, is consistent with a manly piety, most anxious to understand its true relation to the Holy One. He seems, at times, upon the borders of profanity. He makes the boldest declarations; but they are all renounced afterwards, when a new aspect of the matter is presented to his mind, leading him to say DND, "I reject;" I throw them all away; I cannot bear them now. He argues no more; neither does he remain silent like the others; but falls upon his face, saying, only: "I repent in dust and ashes." Here he said "the thing that was right," wholly right; but even during the calmer periods given to him from suffering, he seems to rise immediately to a higher position. It is after such pauses that he brings in those impassioned soliloquies in which the disputants around him seem wholly lost sight of; as in that meditation on the unsearchable Wisdom, ch. xxviii., or when he breaks out with that sublime appeal: "I know that my Redeemer liveth;" or when he says, "O that I knew where I might find Him;" or when he shows that he can surpass Zophar and Bildad in magnifying the divine glory, whilst he is behind none of them in sententious wisdom.
The right" sayings about God" for which Job is commended.
If, however, there are to be found in the Book any utterances in themselves false or evil, they are to be looked for in those passages in which Job seems to pass almost entirely beyond the bounds of reverence, if regarded as speaking of God (as in ch. xvi.), and not rather of the evil being, of whom, in some way, he seems conscious as a great and malignant antagonist. (See note, page 7.) But the exposition which proceeds upon the idea of the Book being the solving of a problem, or the decision of a debate, must find these false things "said about God," or to God ("), in the utterances of the three friends. This might, perhaps, be maintained if there is intended, not their abstract truth, but their practical application to the sufferer; but then they could hardly be called, with consistency, "wrong things about God." They would have been, rather, wrong things said about Job. Now it may be admitted, that, with all his errors and extravagances, there was a general rightness belonging to Job's position. In spite of his expostulations and vehement upbraidings, even of Deity Himself, there was something in his impassioned sincerity, that called out the divine pity, the divine admiration, to speak anthropopathically, so as to give even his errors, in the divine sight, an interest beyond that of the cold, theoretical, unappreciative, casuistical wisdom of his antagonists. In reference to the whole action of the drama, instead of the mere dialectical merit, it might have been said, in the old patriarchal style, that "Job found favor, or grace, in His sight;" and in this way the traditional exposition may be accepted. We may take it as implied also in any form of the decision, and it may stand, if insisted on, as the leading solution of the Book: "Job found grace in the sight of God." With this, however,