Lectionary Calendar
Monday, July 22nd, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Job 2

Coffman's Commentaries on the BibleCoffman's Commentaries

Verses 1-6


“Again it came to pass on the day when the sons of God came to present themselves before Jehovah, that Satan came also among them to present himself before Jehovah. And Jehovah said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered Jehovah, and said, From going to and from in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. And Jehovah said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, for there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and turneth away from evil: and he still holdest fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause. And Satan answered Jehovah, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. But put forth thy hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will renounce thee to thy face. And Jehovah said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thy hand; only spare his life.”

This paragraph is virtually identical with the first paragraph of Job 1; and our exegesis of that paragraph applies equally here. The sons of God are not “the angels.” We believe that the Holy Spirit knew the word angels; and that if he had meant angels here he would thus have designated them. All that Christians do upon earth is done “before the Lord.” The usual meaning of “sons of God” is simply, “men who worship God” (Romans 8:14).

“Skin for skin” “There is a riddle here. No one knows for sure the meaning of this cryptic proverb.”(F1) None of the scholarly guesses we have read is worth repeating. Whatever it means, Satan’s allegation is clear enough. He still believed that if Job’s body was tortured, he would renounce God. The bitter hatred of all men by Satan is starkly revealed.

“Put forth thy hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh” This was Satan’s request; and God had already stated that in the previous trial Satan had “Moved God against Job without cause” (Job 2:3), thus establishing the truth that whatever God allows, God does, in the Biblical sense. “And again it is Satan who is the agent; and God gave him authority to do as he pleased with Job, short of taking his life.”(F2)

“Only spare his life” “If God did not chain up the roaring lion, how soon would he devour us!”(F3)

Verses 7-10


“So Satan went forth from the presence of Jehovah, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown. And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself therewith; and he sat among the ashes. Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still hold fast thine integrity? renounce God, and die. But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.”

“Satan smote Job… with sore boils” “Modern medical opinion is not unanimous in the diagnosis of Job’s disease.”(F4) Driver and Gray, like many others, identified the disease as Elephantiasis,(F5) basing their conclusion upon many symptoms of the disease mentioned subsequently in the Book of Job, such as, his fetid breath (Job 19:17), maggots breeding in the sores (Job 7:5), the falling off of the skin (Job 30:30), feelings of terror (Job 3:25; 6:40), terrible dreams and horrible nightmares (Job 7:14), a sensation of strangulation (Job 7:15), and disfiguration of his appearance (Job 2:12). Whatever it was, it was as loathsome and pitiful a disease as can be imagined.

“Then said his wife, Dost thou still hold fast thine integrity? Renounce God, and die” As Chrysostom observed, we have here the reason why the devil did not kill Job’s wife during that first test. “It was because Satan thought she would be the best tool by which to scourge him more acutely than by any other means.”(F6) Some have attempted to defend Job’s wife; but it is evident that she was indeed, “A tool of the tempter,”(F7) for she suggested here that Job should do the very thing that Satan had predicted that he would do, namely, “renounce God.”

“Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh” In no other response does Job appear more restrained than in this one. In view of the diabolical action she had proposed for him to commit, it appears that Job’s response might have been vehement, derogatory, or angry; but, instead, he merely charged her with foolishness. She no longer believed that Job was righteous.

“What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil” Job here stated the truth that God has the right to send (or allow) either good or evil to befall any person whomsoever. All that God allows is right, regardless of how it may appear to the imperfect perception of men.

“In all this did not Job sin with his lips” Some have hinted that his thoughts in this extremity were sinful, but there is no evidence of that. “There is certainly no veiled suggestion here that Job had cursed God in his heart. Job’s wisdom was sound.”(F8)

However, the same writer declared that, “Job truly served God for naught, but for God Himself”;(F9) and with that opinion, which we find frequently repeated by many scholars, we find it difficult to agree. We believe that Job’s serving God was also, at least, partially motivated by the hope of eternal reward after the sorrows of life were ended. Did he not speak of his Redeemer, and of the resurrection of the dead?

The commentators have overreached themselves when they teach that no hope of reward enters into the motivation for Christian living. Christ himself spoke of those who might be compelled to forsake, “Houses, and brethren, and sisters, and father, or mother, or children, or lands, for his name’s sake,” promising them in the same breath that they should receive, “A hundredfold now in this time… and in the world to come eternal life” (Mark 10:29). Admittedly, the hope of reward is not the highest motive; but we truly believe that God never asked any man to serve God “for naught.” And whatever Job’s motives might have been, he certainly did not serve God for naught.

Job’s wife advised him to renounce God and die; but Job decided to go on living. “And he did so because of his faith in God, and because he was strong enough to endure all that Satan could heap upon him.”(F10)

Keil referred to Job’s rejection of his wife’s evil proposal as his repelling the sixth temptation.(F11) The first four were the satanic blows delivered by those four messengers, one after another, announcing the loss of all Job’s possessions and the death of his children. The fifth temptation came in the form of that horrible disease; and this sixth one was that wicked proposal of his wife to “Renounce God, and die.” The seventh temptation would come in the words of those who came to comfort him, but who, instead, were guilty of dishonoring him with their false admonitions to confess his wickedness and repent of his sins. This might have been the strongest of all his temptations.

Verses 11-13


“Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place: Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite; and they made an appointment together to come to bemoan him and to comfort him. And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his robe, and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven. So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spoke a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.”

This paragraph reveals that Job’s fame was known throughout the East, that the disastrous reversal of his status in the eyes of men was widely known, that there were true friends who loved him, and who decided to come and comfort him. However, with friends like this, Job did not need any enemies! They considered the calamities which had befallen him as due to his sins; and, in the last analysis, their purpose was to persuade him to confess his wickedness and repent! Nothing could have brought any greater distress to Job than that. His friends were anchored in their false opinions by some very grave theological misconceptions. It was their view that, in this present life, righteous people were happy, healthy and prosperous, and that only the wicked were subjected to the type of disasters that had come to Job. How wrong they were!

“Eliphaz the Temanite” This man is supposed to have been an Edomite, a people praised by many in antiquity for their wisdom. Whatever wisdom he had was purely of a worldly nature; and his false theories were utterly useless in his conversations with Job. “He was the most important of the three friends, their leader and spokesman, as indicated by the fact that the speeches of the other two were largely echoes and reiterations of the speeches of Eliphaz.”(F12)

“Bildad the Shuhite” The name Shuhite is supposed to be derived from Shuah, one of the sons of Abraham and Keturah (Genesis 25:2). “The Assyrian area of Shuhu was located south of Haran near the middle of the Euphrates valley and might have been the land of Bildad.”(F13) This second friend of Job gave an absolutely horrible picture of a wicked man in his second speech, which he unmercifully applied to his “friend” Job!

“Zophar the Naamathite” “The name Zophar is unknown outside of Job; and neither a tribe nor a land of Naamah is mentioned anywhere else.”(F14)

“They lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not” Their being able to see Job at some distance has been received as evidence that Job’s place “among the ashes” (Job 2:8) was actually atop the garbage mound usually found adjacent to ancient cities, where rubbish and dried sewerage were burned. What a change had come upon Job. Once the wealthiest man in the East, he sat at the entrance to the city; but now he was an outcast, suffering miserably, despised and rejected by nearly everyone. No wonder his friends knew him not.

“They sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven” The experts at finding contradictions in the Bible think they have one here. “Some find a contradiction between putting dust on their heads and sprinkling it toward heaven.”(F15) It is easily explained by the understanding that they cast the dust toward heaven, letting it fall upon their heads. How would you sprinkle dust on your head? Any dust cast heavenward would fall, would it not?

“They sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights” This, in all probability, means that Job’s disease was not leprosy.

“And none spake a word unto him” Some of the scholars suppose that this means that they sat silently for seven days and seven nights; but it appears more probable that the seven days and seven nights was the time required for the entire speeches and exchanges of the whole Book of Job. Certainly the arrangement of our English text allows such an interpretation. These words therefore could mean that, “They spake not a word unto him,” until Job opened the conversation.

Rawlinson wrote that, “The long silence may be accounted for by the fact that among the Jews, and among Orientals generally, it was a point of decorum, and one dictated by a fine and true feeling, not to speak to a person in deep affliction until he gave some intimation of a desire to be comforted.”(F16)

It is amazing how many “purposes” of the Book of Job are mentioned by commentators; and perhaps another one might also be considered. Job’s epic sorrows and sufferings might have been designed by the Lord for the purpose of convincing Satan that hardships and sufferings do not constitute the best means for weakening and destroying faith.

It is the opposite, namely, such things as popularity, wealth, power and worldly glory that are the most likely human conditions that lead to the loss of faith and rejection of God. This minister of God’s Word has witnessed many examples of Christians who were faithful as long as they were poor, but who, when they became wealthy, delivered themselves unto evil without reservation.

By this permission which God granted Satan to test Job with every possible mortal sorrow, Satan learned the futility of such methods of destroying faith. Then Satan shifted his evil campaign against the faithful away from the plan that failed against Job.

If this is allowed to be true, it justifies, absolutely, all of the sufferings that Job endured. All mankind have benefited from them ever since.

Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Job 2". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bcc/job-2.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.
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