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Bible Commentaries

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
Job 31

 

 

Verse 1

XXXI.

(1) I made a covenant with mine eyes.—Job makes one grand profession of innocence, rehearsing his manner of life from the first; and here he does not content himself with traversing the accusations of his friends, but professes his innocence also of sins less manifest to the observance of others, and affecting the secret conduct and the heart—namely, sensual transgression and idolatry. His object, therefore, is to show his friends that he has really been more upright than their standard demanded or than they supposed him to be, till his affliction made them suspect him; and this uprightness was the consequence of rigid and inflexible adherence to principle, for he made a covenant with his eyes, as the avenues of sinful desires. (Comp. Matthew 5:28.)


Verse 2

(2) What portion of God is there from above?—Comp. the remonstrance of Joseph (Genesis 39:9).


Verse 3

(3) Is not—i.e., Is not this the portion of Job 31:2?


Verse 4

(4) Doth not he.—The “He” is emphatic, obviously meaning God. His appeal is to the All-seeing knowledge of God, whom nothing escapes, and who is judge of the hearts and reins (Psalms 7:9; Psalms 44:21; Jeremiah 17:10; Jeremiah 20:12). (Comp. Acts 25:11.)


Verse 7

(7) If my step hath turned out of the way—The form of the expression is very emphatic: the narrow way of strict integrity and righteousness. (Compare the expression applied to the first believers, Acts 9:2—men of the way.)


Verse 10

(10) Then let my wife grind—i.e., perform all menial offices, like a slave.


Verse 13

(13) If I did despise.—In Job 22:8, Eliphaz had insinuated that Job had favoured the rich and powerful, but had oppressed and ground down the weak. He now meets this accusation, and affirms that he had regarded his own servants even as brethren, because partakers of a common humanity.


Verse 15

(15) Did not he that made me in the womb make him?—He here meets the charges of Eliphaz (Job 22:6-7; Job 22:9).


Verse 18

(18) For from my youth he.—The pronouns refer to the fatherless of Job 31:17 and to the widow of Job 31:16.


Verse 19

(19) If I have seen any perish for want of.—Or, any wanderer without.


Verse 23

(23) I could not endure.—Rather, I was unable to act thus.


Verse 24

(24) If I have made gold my hope.—He here refers to the admonition of Eliphaz (Job 22:23-24), and declares that such had not been his practice.


Verse 26

(26) If I beheld the sun.—It is remarkable that the kind of idolatry repudiated by Job is that only of sun and moon worship. He seems to have been ignorant of the more material and degraded kinds.


Verse 28

(28) By the judge.—Rather, perhaps, by my judge, i.e., God; unless, indeed, there be any reference to the Mosaic law (Deuteronomy 17:2-7), which does not seem likely.


Verse 29

(29) If I rejoiced at the destruction.—He now proceeds to the realm of the wishes and thoughts, and is, therefore, far more thorough and searching with his own case than his friends had been.


Verse 31

(31) Oh that we had of his flesh!—We should never be satisfied therewith. (Comp. the similar expression, Job 19:22.)


Verse 32

(32) I opened my doors to the traveller.—The manners of Genesis 19:2-3, Judges 19:20-21, if not the incidents there recorded, are here implied. “The traveller” is literally the road or way: i.e., the wayfarer.


Verse 33

(33) As Adam.—Or, as man, i.e., commonly does. There may or may not be here some indication of acquaintance with the narrative of Genesis. (See the margin.)


Verse 35

(35) Oh that one would hear me!—The rendering noticed in the margin is probably the right one—Oh that I had one to hear me! Lo, here is my mark! i.e., my signature, my declaration, which I am ready to subscribe; and oh that mine adversary had written a book! More correctly, perhaps, “That I had the book or indictment that my adversary hath written; would that I had it in black and white before me, that I might deal with it accordingly, and answer it point to point.” Here, then, is the same deviation from strict sequence of order that we observed in Job 29:18. Job 31:35-37 ought to come after Job 31:38-40; but the writer’s ideas of symmetry and order were not as ours, and this, in some respects, may be more natural, though, strictly speaking, less correct.


Verse 37

(37) I would declare—i.e., “I would readily give an account of all my actions, and meet him with alacrity and perfect confidence.” Others suppose the meaning to be, “I would meet him as I would meet a prince, with the utmost deference and respect, not at all as an enemy, but as one worthy of all honour and regard.” The actual meaning is uncertain. On the other hand, he has been spoken of by his friends: as a fool (Job 5:2), by Eliphaz; as a man full of words, a liar, and a mocker (Job 11:2-3), by Zophar; as perverse, wicked, and iniquitous (Job 11:12; Job 11:14); a blasphemer and a hypocrite, by Eliphaz (Job 15:4-5; Job 15:13; Job 15:16; Job 15:34, &c.); as wicked, a robber, and ignorant of God, by Bildad (Job 18:5; Job 18:14); as wicked and a hypocrite, by Zophar (Job 20:5); as extortionate and oppressive (Job 31:15; Job 31:19, &c.); as a tyrant and an impious man, by Eliphaz (Job 22:5; Job 22:9; Job 22:13; Job 22:17, &c.).


Verse 38

(38) Or that the furrows likewise thereof complain.—Rather, Or if the furrows thereof weep together—a strong impersonation to express the consequence of oppression and wrong-doing. It is to be observed that throughout this defence Job has far more than traversed the indictment of his friends. He has shown that he has not only not broken the moral law, as they insinuated, but, much more, has shown himself exemplary in all the relations of life, so that, according to the narrator of the history, he was not only one that feared God and eschewed evil (Job 1:1), but also was perfect, i.e., of sincere and consistent conduct and upright.

 


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Bibliography Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Job 31:4". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/job-31.html. 1905.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, June 1st, 2020
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
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