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the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Job 15

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

Then answered Eliphaz the Temanite, and said,

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 2

Should a wise man utter vain knowledge, and fill his belly with the east wind?

A wise man - which Job claims to be. Vain knowledge - Hebrew, windy knowledge-literally, 'of wind' (Job 8:2), In Ecclesiastes 1:14 [ rª`uwt (H7469) ruwach (H7307)], Hebrew, to catch wind, expresses to strive for what is vain.

East wind - stronger than the previous "wind." For in that region the east wind is the most destructive of winds (Isaiah 27:8). Thus here-empty violence.

Belly - the inward parts, the breast (Proverbs 18:8).

Verse 3

Should he reason with unprofitable talk? or with speeches wherewith he can do no good?

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 4

Yea, thou castest off fear, and restrainest prayer before God.

Castest off fear - Hebrew, 'breakest'-reverence for God (Job 4:6; Psalms 2:11, "Serve the Lord with fear").

Prayer - meditation, in Psalms 104:34; Psalms 119:97; Psalms 119:99, devotion [ siychaah (H7881)]. If thy views were right, reasons Eliphaz, that God disregards the afflictions of the righteous, and makes the wicked to prosper (Job 9:22; Job 12:6), all devotion would be at end.

Restrainest - dost detract from [ wªtigra` (H1639)].

Verse 5

For thy mouth uttereth thine iniquity, and thou choosest the tongue of the crafty.

The sophistry of thine own speeches proves thy guilt. The sophistry of thine own speeches proves thy guilt.

Uttereth - margin, rightly 'teacheth.' The craft of Job consisted, according to Eliphaz, in his transferring the blame to his friends, and accusing them of being "forgers of lies" (Job 13:4; Job 13:7).

Verse 6

Thine own mouth condemneth thee, and not I: yea, thine own lips testify against thee.

No pious man would utter such sentiments.

Verse 7

Art thou the first man that was born? or wast thou made before the hills?

i.e., Art thou wisdom personified? Wisdom existed before the hills - i:e., the eternal of God (Proverbs 8:25; Psalms 90:2). Want thou in existence before Adam? The further back one existed, the nearer he was to the Eternal Wisdom.

Verse 8

Hast thou heard the secret of God? and dost thou restrain wisdom to thyself?

Secret - rather, 'Wast thou a listener in the secret council [ bªcowd (H5475)] of God?' The Hebrew means properly the cushions on which a divan of councilors in the East usually sit. God's servants are admitted to God's secrete (Psalms 25:14; Genesis 18:17; John 15:15).

Restrain - rather didst thou take away, or borrow, thence (namely, from the Divine Secret Council) thy wisdom. The Hebrew is the stone as in Job 15:4 [ gaara` (H1639)]: there it meant 'detract;' here, 'didst thou attract to thyself thence wisdom?' Eliphaz in this (Job 15:8-9) retorts Job's words, upon himself (Job 12:2-3; Job 13:2).

Verse 9

What knowest thou, that we know not? what understandest thou, which is not in us?

In us - or 'with us;' Hebraism for we are, aware of.

Verse 10

With us are both the grayheaded and very aged men, much elder than thy father.

On our side, thinking with us, are the aged. Job had admitted that wisdom is with them (Job 12:12). Eliphaz seems to have been himself older than Job; perhaps the other two also were so (Job 32:6). Job, in Job 30:1, does not refer to his three friends; it therefore forms no objection. The Arabs are proud of fullness of years.

Verse 11

Are the consolations of God small with thee? is there any secret thing with thee?

Consolations - namely, the revelation which Eliphaz had stated (Job 4:12; Job 4:17; Job 5:7-26) as a consolatory reproof to Job, and which he partly repeat in Job 15:14.

Secret. Hast thou some secret wisdom and revealed source of consolation, which makes thee disregard those suggested by me? (Job 15:8) I prefer this to the other translation, from a different Hebrew root, Is the word of kindness [ daabaar (H1697) laa'aT (H328)], or gentleness (addressed by me), treated by thee as valueless? (Umbreit.)

Verse 12

Why doth thine heart carry thee away? and what do thy eyes wink at,

Wink - i:e., why do thy eyes evince passion and pride? (Proverbs 13:1-25; Psalms 35:19.)

Verse 13

That thou turnest thy spirit against God, and lettest such words go out of thy mouth?

i.e., frettest against God, and lettest fall rash words.

Thy spirit - `thy breath:' implying the airy emptiness of Job's passionate speeches.

Verse 14

What is man, that he should be clean? and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous?

Eliphaz repeats the revelation (Job 4:17) in substances but using Job's own words (Job 14:1, note on "born of a wonan") to strike him with his own weapons.

Verse 15

Behold, he putteth no trust in his saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight.

Repeated from Job 4:18; "servants" there are "saints" here-namely, holy angels.

Heavens - literally, or else answering to "angels" (Job 4:18; see note there, and Job 25:5).

Verse 16

How much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh iniquity like water?

Filthy - in Arabic, sour (Psalms 14:3; Psalms 53:3); corrupted from his original purity.

Drinketh - (Proverbs 19:28, "The mouth of the wicked devoureth iniquity;" cf. Job 34:7; Psalms 73:10).

Verse 17

I will shew thee, hear me; and that which I have seen I will declare;

In direct contradiction of Job's position (Job 12:6, etc.), that the lot of the wicked was the most prosperous here, Eiphaz appeals

(1) To his own experience;

(2) To the wisdom of the ancients.

Verse 18

Which wise men have told from their fathers, and have not hid it:

'Which, as handed down from their fathers, wise men have told, and have not concealed.

Verse 19

Unto whom alone the earth was given, and no stranger passed among them.

Eliphaz speaks like a genuine Arab when he boasts that his ancestors had ever possessed the land unmixed with foreigners (Umbreit). His words are intended to oppose Job's (Job 9:24); "the earth" in their case was not "given into the hand of the wicked." He refers to the division of the earth by divine appointment (Genesis 10:5; Genesis 10:25; Genesis 10:32). Also, he may insinuate that Job's sentiments had been corrupted from original purity by his vicinity to the Sabeans and Chaldeans (Rosenmuller).

Verse 20

The wicked man travaileth with pain all his days, and the number of years is hidden to the oppressor. The wicked man travaileth with pain all his days, and the number of years is hidden to the oppressor.

Travaileth - rather, 'trembleth of himself' [ mitchowleel (H2349)], though there is no real danger (Umbreit). 'The sinner is a self-tormentor all his days' (Grotius), and the number of (his) years, etc. This gives the reason why the wicked man trembles continually-namely, because he knows not the moment when his life must end.

Verse 21

A dreadful sound is in his ears: in prosperity the destroyer shall come upon him.

An evil conscience conceives alarm at every sudden sound, though it be in a time of peace ("prosperity"), when there is no real danger (Leviticus 26:36; Proverbs 28:1; 2 Kings 7:6).

A dreadful sound - Hebrew, 'a voice of terrors.'

Verse 22

He believeth not that he shall return out of darkness, and he is waited for of the sword.

Darkness - namely, danger or calamity. Glancing at Job, who despaired of restoration: in contrast to good men when in darkness (Micah 7:8-9).

Waited for of - i:e., He is destined for the sword (Gesenius), or (in the night of dinner) 'he looks anxiously toward the sword,' as if every sword was drawn against him (Umbreit) [ tsaapuwy (H6822) huw' (H1931) 'eleey (H413) chaareb (H2719)]. The English version is more literal, except that the Hebrew for "of" is toward. He fancies he is doomed to the sword.

Verse 23

He wandereth abroad for bread, saying, Where is it? he knoweth that the day of darkness is ready at his hand.

Wandereth in anxious search for bread. Famine in the Old Testament depicts sore need (Isaiah 5:13, "their honourable men are famished." Contrast the pious man's lot (Job 5:20-22). As in peace the wicked man fears the sudden attack of an enemy, so in the midst of abundance he is apprehensive of famine, and anxiously wanders to and fro in search of bread to lay up in store. The abruptness of the verse marks his restless anxiety.

Knoweth - has the firm conviction. Contrast the same word applied to the pious (Job 5:24-25).

Ready at his hand - an Arabic phrase, to denote a thing's complete readiness and full presence, as if in the hand.

Verse 24

Trouble and anguish shall make him afraid; they shall prevail against him, as a king ready to the battle.

Prevail - break upon him suddenly and terribly, as a king, etc. (Proverbs 6:11).

Verse 25

For he stretcheth out his hand against God, and strengtheneth himself against the Almighty.

Stretcheth ... hand - wielding the spear as a bold rebel against God (Job 9:4; Isaiah 27:4).

Verse 26

He runneth upon him, even on his neck, upon the thick bosses of his bucklers:

On his neck - rather, 'with outstretched neck'-namely, that of the rebel uplifted hanghtily (Umbreit). (Psalms 75:5.)

Upon ... bucklers - rather, 'with-his (the rebel's, not God's) bucklers.' The rebel and his fellows are depicted as joining shields together, to form a compact covering over their heads against the weapons hurled on them from a fortress (Umbreit and Gesenius).

Verse 27

Because he covereth his face with his fatness, and maketh collops of fat on his flanks.

The well-nourished body of the rebel is the sign of his prosperity.

Collops - masses of fat. He pampers and fattens himself with sensual indulgences, making a god of his belly (Philippians 3:19). Hence, his rebellion against God (Deuteronomy 32:15; 1 Samuel 2:29).

Verse 28

And he dwelleth in desolate cities, and in houses which no man inhabiteth, which are ready to become heaps.

The class of wicked here described is that of robbers who plunder "cities," and seize on the houses of the banished citizens (Isaiah 13:20), that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth (Isaiah 5:8). Eliphaz chooses this class because Job had chosen the same (Job 12:6).

Heaps - of ruins.

Verse 29

He shall not be rich, neither shall his substance continue, neither shall he prolong the perfection thereof upon the earth.

'He doth not grow rich:' he has reached his highest point: 'his prosperity shall not continue.'

Perfection - rather, 'his acquired wealth [ minlaam (H4512)] - what he possesses-shall not be extended,' etc.; or 'spread itself' [naamaah], as a plant spreading its shoots upon the ground. But Maurer, on account of the Hebrew preposition lª-], toward translates, 'His acquisitions do not bend toward the earth.' He is not like a tree whose boughs, laden with fruit, are borne down to the earth.

Verse 30

He shall not depart out of darkness; the flame shall dry up his branches, and by the breath of his mouth He shall not depart out of darkness; the flame shall dry up his branches, and by the breath of his mouth shall he go away.

Depart - i:e., escape calamity (Job 15:22-23).

Branches - namely, his offspring (Job 1:18-19, Job's sons and daughters slain; Psalms 37:35).

Dry up. The "flame" is the sultry wind in the East, by which plants most full of sap are suddenly shrivelled.

His mouth - i:e., God's wrath (Isaiah 11:4, "With the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips, shall He slay the wicked").

Verse 31

Let not him that is deceived trust in vanity: for vanity shall be his recompence.

Rather, 'let him not trust in vanity (or) he will be deceived,' etc.

Vanity, [ shaaw' (H7723)] - that which is unsubstantial. Sin is its own punishment (Proverbs 1:31; Jeremiah 2:19).

Verse 32

It shall be accomplished before his time, and his branch shall not be green.

Literally, 'it (the tree to which he is compared Job 15:30 or else his life) shall be filled up' i:e., 'he shall be ended before his time.'

Shall not be green - image from a withered tree: the childless extinction of the wicked: He and his children together perish utterly.

Verse 33

He shall shake off his unripe grape as the vine, and shall cast off his flower as the olive. Image of incompleteness. The loss of the unripe grapes is poetically made the vine tree's own act, in order to express more pointedly that the sinner's ruin is the fruit of his own conduct (Isaiah 3:11; Jeremiah 6:19).

Verse 34

For the congregation of hypocrites shall be desolate, and fire shall consume the tabernacles of bribery.

Rather, The banding together of the hypocrites (wicked) shall be fruitless (Umbreit). Maurer translates, 'the family of the wicked shall be barren' - i:e., without offspring. I prefer this. Tabernacles of bribery-namely, dwellings of unjust judges, often reprobated in the Old Testament (Isaiah 1:23). No dwelling shall be left to record their past existence. The abodes wherein were treasured their unjust gains shall be destroyed, as well as the wicked themselves. The "fire of God" that consumed Job's possessions (Job 1:16; Job 1:19), and the winds that destroyed his children and the house, Eliphaz insinuates may have been on account of Job's bribery as an Arab sheikh or emir (cf. Job 18:15; Job 20:26; Job 22:20).

Verse 35

They conceive mischief, and bring forth vanity, and their belly prepareth deceit.

Bitter irony, illustrating the "unfruitfulness" (Job 15:34) of the wicked. Their conceptions and birth-givings consist solely in mischief etc.

Bring forth vanity. Their plans, when on the eve of execution, are brought to nought (Psalms 7:14-15; Isaiah 59:4; Isaiah 33:11, "Ye, shall conceive chaff, ye shall bring forth stubble").

Their belly - as a womb.

Prepareth - hatcheth.

Deceit - what deceives their expectation. The evil which they meditate against others falls on themselves.


(1) Nothing more exhibit a man's wisdom, or betrays his folly, than the character of his speech (Job 15:2-3). "Who is a wise man, and endued with knowledge! Let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom" (James 3:13). But the sinner's own mouth condemns him, and his own lips testify against him (Job 15:6). (2) How suicidal is the folly of the ungodly in putting away from him in time of trouble the only solace, the true source of peace, namely, "the consolations of God" (Job 15:11). Pride is at the root of his rejection of God's offer of love. Self-willed impatience and passion lead him to fret aganist God, instead of bowing humbly, to God (Job 15:12-13). "The wicked through the pride of his countenance will not seek after God" (Psalms 10:4; cf. Jeremiah 13:17). The godly weep in secret for the pride which keeps the ungodly from hearkening to our loving God. But Job was not such a one as the friends thought him to be. It is true, the severity of his Satan-inflicted trials clouded his spiritual perceptions for a time, and led him to use unwarranted language in justification of himself and complaint against God; but, in the main, Job was a sincere, humble, and consistent worshipper. This teaches us not to be too ready in supplying to others, without the surest proof, Scripture condemnations of pride and hypocrisy, which, however true in the abstract, are untrue in the particular case wherein we apply them.

(3) The state of the ungodly man, however seemingly prosperous, is anything but an enviable state. Anxieties and apprehensions mar most of his enjoyments (Job 15:20). He knows not how soon his days shall end. Conscience, from time to time, creates within an uneasy misgiving and an alarm, as though some unforeseen and undefined calamity is coming upon him (Job 15:20-22). This is the necessary consequence of his lifting himself up against God (Job 15:25; Job 15:27). As men sow they shall also reap. Sinners shall eat of the fruit of their own way, sod shall be filled with their own devices (Proverbs 1:31). The man who trusts in vanity-and all sin is vanity-shall have vanity for has righteous recompence.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 15". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/job-15.html. 1871-8.
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