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Bible Commentaries

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
Job 1

 

 

Verse 1

(1) There was a man in the land of Uz.—The first mention of this name is in Genesis 10:23, where Uz is said to have been one of the sons of Aram, who was one of the sons of Shem. (Comp. 1 Chronicles 1:17.) Another Uz (in the Authorised Version spelt Huz) is mentioned in Genesis 22:21 as the firstborn of Nahor, the brother of Abraham. A third form of this name is mentioned in Genesis 36:28 among “the sons of Seir the Horite. who inhabited the land” of Edom. (Comp. 1 Chronicles 1:42.) It is probable that each of these is to be associated with a different district: the first perhaps with that of the Lebanon—a district near Damascus is still called El-Ghutha; the second with that of Mesopotamia or Chaldea; and the third with the Edomite district south of Palestine. From the mention of “the land of Uz” (Lamentations 4:21) and “the kings of the land of Uz” (Jeremiah 25:20), where in each case the association seems to be with Edom, it is probable that the land of Job is to be identified rather with the district south and southeast of Palestine.

Whose name was Job.—The name is really Iyyov, and is carefully to be distinguished from the Job (Yov) who was the son of Issachar (Genesis 46:13), and from the Jobab (Yovav) who was one of the kings of Edom (Genesis 36:33), with both of which it has been confounded. The form of the name may suggest the signification of “the assaulted one,” as the root from which it appears to be derived means “was an enemy.”

Perfect and upright . . .—Noah in like manner is said to have been “perfect” (Genesis 6:9). Abram was required to be so (Genesis 17:1), and Israel generally (Deuteronomy 18:13), though the adjective in these places is not quite the same as that used here; and our Lord required the same high standard of His disciples (Matthew 5:48), while He also, through the gift of the Spirit, made it possible. The character here given to Job is that in which wisdom is declared to consist. (Comp. Job 28:28.) It has the twofold aspect of refusing the evil and choosing the good, of aiming at a lofty ideal of excellence and of shunning that which is fatal or opposed to it.


Verse 2

(2) Seven sons and three daughters.—The like number was restored to him after his probation (Job 42:13).


Verse 3

(3) The men of the east.—This term is indefinite with regard to the three districts above mentioned, and might include them all. The Arabs still call the Hauran, or the district east of Jordan, the land of Job. It is said to be a lovely and fertile region, fulfilling the conditions of the poem.


Verse 4

(4) Every one his day.—i.e., probably his birthday. (Comp. Genesis 40:20; Genesis 21:8; and in the New Testament Matthew 14:6, Mark 6:21.)


Verse 5

(5) Job sent and sanctified them . . .—The earnest records of society exhibit the father of the family acting as the priest. This is one of the passages that show Job was outside the pale and influence of the Mosaic law, whether this was owing to his age or his country. His life in this respect corresponds with that of the patriarchs in Genesis more nearly than any other in Scripture.

Cursed God.—The word used here and in Job 1:11 and Job 2:5; Job 2:9, and also in 1 Kings 21:10; 1 Kings 21:13, of Naboth, is literally blessed; that in Job 3:1, e.g., &c., being quite different. The contrast in Job 1:22; Job 2:10 snows the Authorised Version to be substantially right, however this contradictory sense is obtained Many languages have words which are used in opposite senses. (Comp. e.g., our “cleave to” and “cleave.”) The use of bless in the sense of curse may be a euphemism, or it may arise from giving to it the meaning of saluting or bidding farewell to, and so dismissing. This use is not elsewhere found than in the passages cited above.


Verse 6

(6) Sons of God.—Comp. Job 38:7, Genesis 6:2; Genesis 6:4; and for the sense comp. 1 Kings 22:19. The phrase probably means the angels; or at all events an incident in the unseen spiritual world is referred to simultaneous with a corresponding one on earth. (Comp. 1 Corinthians 11:10.) In the latter sense, a solemn thought is suggested by it to those who join in the public worship of God.

Satan.—The word appears in the Old Testament as the name of a specific person only here and in Zechariah 3:2, and possibly in 1 Chronicles 21:1 and Psalms 109:6. If this psalm is David’s, according to the inscription, no reliance can be placed on speculations as to the late introduction of a belief in Satan among the Jews, nor, therefore, on any as to the lateness of these early chapters of Job. Precisely the same word is used, apparently as a common name, in the history of Balaam (Numbers 22:22; Numbers 22:32), also in 1 Samuel 29:4, and 1 Kings 5:4; 1 Kings 11:14; 1 Kings 11:23; 1 Kings 11:25, where it can hardly be otherwise. Here only and in Zechariah it is found with the definite article “the adversary.” The theory of the personality of the evil one must largely depend upon the view we take of these and other passages of Scripture as containing an authoritative revelation.


Verse 7

(7) From going to and fro . . .—Compare our Lord’s words in Matthew 13:25 : “and went his way.” St. Peter evidently had this passage in mind (1 Peter 5:8, “walketh about”).


Verse 9

(9) Doth Job fear God for nought?—Manifesting the worst kind of scepticism, a disbelief in human goodness. Satan knows that the motive of an action is its only value, and by incrimination calumniates the motives of Job. The object of the book is thus introduced, which is to exhibit the integrity of human conduct under the worst possible trial, and to show man a victor over Satan.


Verse 12

(12) All that he hath is in thy power . . .—Mighty as the principle of evil is in the world, it is nevertheless held in check by One who directs it to His own ends. Such is the uniform teaching of Scripture. We are not under the uncontrolled dominion of evil, strong as the temptation may be at times to think so. (See 2 Corinthians 12:7; 2 Corinthians 12:9; 1 Thessalonians 2:18, &c.)


Verse 15

(15) The Sabeans.—Literally, Sheba. Three persons named Sheba are found in Genesis: (1) The son of Raamah and grandson of Cush (Genesis 10:7); (2) the son of Jokshan and grandson of Abraham (Genesis 25:3); (3) The son of Joktanand grandson of Eber (Genesis 10:28). It is probably the second who is referred to here, whose descendants led a predatory and marauding kind of life in the country bordering on that of Job. (Comp. Ezekiel 38:13.)


Verse 16

(16) The fire of God.—Whether or not we understand this phrase as in the margin, it can hardly mean anything else than lightning. (Comp. Genesis 19:24, and 2 Kings 1:10-14.) It is characteristic of the Old Testament poetry to see in the convulsions of nature the immediate action of the Most High; but perhaps it is intended throughout Job that we should see more than this, as the book undoubtedly assumes to be the record of a Divine revelation.


Verse 17

(17) The Chaldeans.—Literally, Chasdim, or descendants of Chesed (Genesis 22:22; see Note on Job 1:1). This name reappears in the classic Carduchia and in the modern Kurdistan, as well as in the more familiar Chaldæa; it being a well-known philological law that r and l and r and s are interchangeable. It is to be noted that this calamity arose from the opposite quarter to the last, illustrating the well-known fact that troubles never come alone, and that causes of a widely different nature seem to combine to overthrow the falling man.


Verse 18

(18) Thy sons and thy daughters.—See Job 1:13. The marvellous accumulation of disasters points us to the conclusion that it was the distinct work of Satan, according to the permission given him (Job 1:12), and consequently supernatural.


Verse 20

(20) And worshipped.—Compare the conduct of David (2 Samuel 12:20) and of Hezekiah (2 Kings 19:1). Moments of intense sorrow or trial, like moments of intense joy, force us into the immediate presence of God.


Verse 21

(21) Thither.—If taken literally, can only refer to the womb, which in that case must here mean the earth, with a probable allusion to Genesis 3:19. (Comp. Job 17:14.)

Blessed be the name of the Lord.—The very word used in a contrary sense (Job 1:11). Thus was Satan foiled for the first time.


Verse 22

(22) Foolishly.—The same word as at Job 24:12, signifying reproach or guilt. It is a noun derived from the adjective rendered “unsavoury” in Job 6:6.

 


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Bibliography Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Job 1:4". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/job-1.html. 1905.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, December 9th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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