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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

Job 4

Verses 1-21

Job 4:1

If he had been a fool he would never have been dear to Job, nor would he have been one of the three amongst all Job's acquaintances who came to him from afar.... Eliphaz is partly a rhetorician, and, like all persons with that gift, he is frequently carried off his feet and ceases to touch the firm earth.... A certain want of connexion and pertinence is observable in him. A man who is made up of what he hears or reads always lacks unity and directness. Confronted by any difficulty or by any event which calls upon him, he answers not by an operation of his intellect on what is immediately before him, but by detached remarks which he has collected, and which are never a fused homogeneous whole.

Mark Rutherford in The Deliverance.

Suddenly a fresh thought came, and she prayed that, through whatever suffering, she might be purified. Whatever trials, woes, measureless pangs, God might see fit to chastise her with, she would not shrink, if only at last she might come into His presence. Alas! the shrinking from suffering we cannot help. That part of her prayer was vain.

Mrs. Gaskell in Ruth (chap. XXIII).

Job 4:8

Would that I had a folio to write, instead of an article of a dozen pages. Then might I exemplify how an influence, beyond our control, lays its strong hand upon every deed which we do, and weaves its consequences into an iron tissue of necessity.

N. Hawthorne.

Job 4:13 f

There is a passage in the book of Job amazingly sublime, and this sublimity is principally due to the terrible uncertainty of the thing described: ' In thoughts from the visions of the night, when deep sleep falleth on men, fear came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones to shake. Then a spirit passed before my face; the hair of my flesh stood up: it stood still, but I could not discern the form thereof: an image was before mine eyes, there was silence, and I heard a voice, saying, shall mortal man be more just than God?' We are first prepared with the utmost solemnity for the vision; we are first terrified before we are let even into the obscure cause of our emotion; but when this grand cause of terror makes its appearance, what is it? Is it not wrapt up in the shades of its own incomprehensible darkness, more awful, more striking, more terrible, than the liveliest description, than the clearest painting, could possibly represent it?

Burke, On the Sublime and the Beautiful, § iv.

In his life of Dr. John Donne, Isaak Walton observes that 'most of our world are at present possessed with an opinion that Visions and Miracles are ceased'. 'I am well pleased,' he adds 'that every Reader do enjoy his own opinion. But if the unbelieving will not allow the believing Reader of this story [i.e. a dream of Dr. Donne's], a liberty to believe that it may be true; then I wish him to consider many wise men have believed that the ghost of Julius Caesar did appear to Brutus, and that both St. Austin and Monica his mother had visions in order to his conversion. And though these, and many others too many to name have but the authority of human story, yet the incredible Reader may find in the Sacred Story that Bildad, in the book of Job, says these words; "a spirit passed before my face; the hair of my head stood up; fear and trembling came upon me, and made all my bones to shake" before which words I make no comment, but leave them to be considered by the incredulous Reader.'

Job 4:16

Did you ever see the 'Jacob's Dream' in the Dulwich Gallery? He is a Dutchman, and an old clothes' man, for any refinement that he has about him. But what a vision he sees! A scrap of desert a distant hill a stunted bush shaking at intervals with the night wind is all the material he has about him; but in the dream and vision of the night he sees shapes which hardly separate themselves from the pensive glory and the rolling volume of cloud. Neither bird white-plumaged, nor angel white-winged, nor any other shape distinguishable in member, joint or limb and yet a shape sealing instruction as unutterable as the form is dim. 'It stands still; he cannot discern the form thereof; an image is before his eyes; there is silence?' It is like a passage out of the deep book of Job.

Smetham's Letters, pp. 267-268

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Job 4". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/job-4.html. 1910.