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Thursday, September 21st, 2023
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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Bible Commentaries
Job 22

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

Verse 1

Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said,

Eliphaz shows that man's goodness does not add to, or man's badness take from, the happiness of God: therefore it cannot be that God sends prosperity to some and calamities on others for His own advantage: the cause of the goods and ills sent must lie in the men themselves (Psalms 16:2; Luke 17:10; Acts 17:25; 1 Chronicles 29:14). So Job's calamities must arise from guilt. Eliphaz, instead of meeting the facts, tries to show that it cover not be so.

Verse 2

Can a man be profitable unto God, as he that is wise may be profitable unto himself?

As he that is wise - rather, yea, the (truly) wise (pious) man profiteth himself. So "understanding" or "wise" - pious (Daniel 12:3; Daniel 12:10; Psalms 14:2). (Michaelis.)

Verse 3

Is it any pleasure to the Almighty, that thou art righteous? or is it gain to him, that thou makest thy ways perfect?

Pleasure - accession of happiness: God has pleasure in man's righteousness (Psalms 45:7), but He is not dependent on man's character for His happiness.

Verse 4

Will he reprove thee for fear of thee? will he enter with thee into judgment?

Is the punishment inflicted on thee from fear of thee, in order to disarm thee? as Job had implied (notes, Job 7:12; Job 7:20; Job 10:17).

Will he enter ... into judgment? Job had desired this (Job 13:3; Job 13:21-22). He ought rather to have spoken as Psalms 143:2.

Verse 5

Is not thy wickedness great? and thine iniquities infinite?

Heretofore Eliphaz had only insinuated, now he plainly asserts Job's guilt, merely on the ground of his sufferings.

Verse 6

For thou hast taken a pledge from thy brother for nought, and stripped the naked of their clothing.

The crimes alleged, on a harsh inference, by Eliphaz against Job, are such as he would think likely to be committed by a rich man. The Mosaic law (Exodus 22:26; Deuteronomy 24:10) subsequently embodied the feeling that existed among the godly in Job's time against oppression of debtors as to their pledges. Here the case is not quite the same: Job is charged with taking a pledge where be had no just claim to it: and in the second clause, that pledge (the outer garment, which served the poor as a covering by day, and a bed by night) is represented as taken from one who had not "changes of raiment" (a common constituent of wealth in the East), but was poorly clad - "naked" (Matthew 25:36; James 2:15); a sin the more heinous in a rich man like Job.

Verse 7

Thou hast not given water to the weary to drink, and thou hast withholden bread from the hungry. Hospitality to the weary traveler is regarded in the East as a primary duty (Isaiah 21:14).

Verse 8

But as for the mighty man, he had the earth; and the honourable man dwelt in it.

Mighty - Hebrew, 'man of arm' (Psalms 10:15); namely, Job.

Honourable - Hebrew, accepted of countenance (Isaiah 3:3, margin; 2 Kings 5:1, margin); i:e., possessing authority. Eliphaz repeats his charge (Job 15:28; so Zophar, Job 20:19), that it was by violence Job wrung houses and lands from the poor, to whom now he refused relief (Job 22:7; Job 22:9). (Michaelis.)

Verse 9

Thou hast sent widows away empty, and the arms of the fatherless have been broken.

Empty - without their wants being relieved (Genesis 31:42). The Mosaic law especially protected the widow and fatherless (Exodus 22:22); the violation of it in their case by the great is a complaint of the prophets (Isaiah 1:17).

Arms - supports, helps on which one leans (Hosea 7:15, "I have strengthened their arms"). Thou hast robbed them their only stay. Job replies in Job 29:11-16.

Verse 10

Therefore snares are round about thee, and sudden fear troubleth thee;

Snares - alluding to Job's admission (Job 19:6; cf. Job 18:10; Proverbs 22:5, "Snares are in the way of the froward").

Verse 11

Or darkness, that thou canst not see; and abundance of waters cover thee.

That - so that thou canst not see.

Abundance - floods. Dauger by floods is a less frequent image in this book than in the rest of the Old Testament (Job 11:16; Job 27:20). Overwhelming calamities are meant (Psalms 18:16; Psalms 32:6).

Verse 12

Is not God in the height of heaven? and behold the height of the stars, how high they are!

Eliphaz says this to prove that God can from His height behold all things; gratuitously inferring that Job denied it, because he denied that the wicked are punished here.

Height - Hebrew, head; i:e., elevation (Job 11:8).

Verse 13

And thou sayest, How doth God know? can he judge through the dark cloud?

Rather, And yet thou sayest, God does not concern himself with ("know") human affairs, (Psalms 73:11, "How doth God know? Is there knowledge in the Most High?")

Judge through ... cloud? - Can His judgment penetrate "through the dark cloud" to the earth?

Verse 14

Thick clouds are a covering to him, that he seeth not; and he walketh in the circuit of heaven.

Covering - a veil. "In the circuit of heaven" only, not taking any part in earthly affairs. Job is alleged as holding this Epicurean sentiment (Lamentations 3:44; Isaiah 29:15; Isaiah 40:27; Jeremiah 23:24; Ezekiel 8:12; Psalms 139:12, "The darkness hideth not from thee").

Verse 15

Hast thou marked the old way which wicked men have trodden?

Marked - rather, Dost thou keep to? i:e., wish to follow (so Hebrew, 2 Samuel 22:22). If so, beware of sharing their end.

The old way - the degenerate ways of the world before the flood (Genesis 6:5, "The Wickedness of man was great in the earth, and every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually").

Verse 16

Which were cut down out of time, whose foundation was overflown with a flood:

Cut down - rather, 'fettered,' as in Job 16:8; Job 1:1-22:e., arrested by death.

Out of time - prematurely, suddenly (Job 15:32; Ecclesiastes 7:17); literally, whose foundation was poured out (so as to become) a stream, or flood. The solid earth passed from beneath their feet into a flood (Genesis 7:11, "The fountains of the great deep were broken up").

Verse 17

Which said unto God, Depart from us: and what can the Almighty do for them?

Eliphaz designedly uses Job's own words (Job 21:14-15), to show that the wicked, who so put away God from them, are not prosperous, as Job had asserted.

Do for them. They think they, can do everything for themselves.

Verse 18

Yet he filled their houses with good things: but the counsel of the wicked is far from me.

"Yet" you say (Job 21:16, see note) that it is "He who filled their houses with good" - "their" 'good is not in their hand,' but comes from God.

But the counsel ... is ... - rather, may the counsel be, etc. Eliphaz sarcastically quotes in continuation Job's words (Job 21:16). Yet, after uttering this godless sentiment, thou dost hypocritically add, "May the counsel," etc. Such a formula of aversion against the wicked becomes not you, a wicked man yourself, but me.

Verse 19

The righteous see it, and are glad: and the innocent laugh them to scorn.

Triumph of the pious at the fall of the recent followers of the antediluvian sinners. Whilst in the act of denying that God can do them say good or harm, they are cut off by Him. Eliphaz hereby justifies himself and the friends for their conduct to Job: not derision of the wretched, but joy at the vindication of God's ways (Psalms 107:42; Revelation 15:3; Revelation 16:7; Revelation 19:1-2, "Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power unto the Lord our God: for true and righteous are His judgments").

Verse 20

Whereas our substance is not cut down, but the remnant of them the fire consumeth.

Whereas our substance is not cut down. The triumphant speech of the pious. If "substance" be retained translate, rather, as the Septuagint, 'Has not their substance been taken away, and?' etc. But the Hebrew is rather, 'Truly [ `im (H5973) lo' (H3808): not, whereas ... not] our adversary [ qiymaanuw (H7009)] is cut down' (Gesenius). The learned Cocceius supports the English version. The same opposition exists between the godly and ungodly seed as between the unfallen and restored Adam and Satan (adversary): this forms the groundwork of the book (Job 1:1-22; Job 2:1-13; Genesis 3:15).

Remnant - all that 'is left' of the sinner: repeated from Job 20:26, which makes Umbreit's rendering, 'glory' (margin), 'excellency,' less probable.

Fire - alluding to Job (Job 1:16; Job 15:34; Job 18:15; Job 20:26). First is mentioned destruction by water (Job 22:16); here, by fire (2 Peter 3:5-7).

Verse 21

Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee.

Eliphaz takes it for granted, Job is not yet 'acquainted' with God; literally, become a companion of God. Turn with familiar confidence to God.

And be - so thou shalt be. The second imperative expresses the consequence of obeying the first (Psalms 37:27).

Peace - prosperity and restoration to Job; true, spiritually, also to us (Romans 5:1; Colossians 1:20).

Good - (1 Timothy 4:8).

Verse 22

Receive, I pray thee, the law from his mouth, and lay up his words in thine heart.

Lay up - (Psalms 119:11, "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee;" cf. Proverbs 2:1; Proverbs 4:10).

Law, [ towraah (H8451)] - literally, a directory: from the idea of straightness.

Verse 23

If thou return to the Almighty, thou shalt be built up, thou shalt put away iniquity far from thy tabernacles.

Built up - anew, as a restored house.

Thou shalt put away - rather, if thou put away (Michaelis).

Verse 24

Then shalt thou lay up gold as dust, and the gold of Ophir as the stones of the brooks.

Rather, containing the protasis from the last clause of Job 22:23, If thou regard the glittering metal as dust-literally, lay it on the dust-to regard it of as little value as the dust on which it lies. The apodosis is at Job 22:25. Then shall the Almighty be, etc. God will take the place of the wealth in which thou didst formerly trust.

Gold - rather, 'precious' or 'glittering metal,' parallel to "(gold) of Ophir," in the second clause (Umbeit and Maurer).

Ophir - derived from a Hebrew word, dust-namely, gold dust. Heeren thinks it a general name for the rich countries of the South, on the African, Indian, and especially the Arabian coast (where the port Aphar was. El Ophir, too, a city of Oman, was formerly the center of Arabian commerce). It is curious, the natives of Malacca still call their mines Ophirs.

Stones of the brooks - if thou dost let the gold of Ophir remain in its native valley among the stones of the brooks; i:e., regard it as of as little worth as the stones, etc. The gold was washed down by mountain torrents, and lodged among the stones and sand of the valley.

Verse 25

Yea, the Almighty shall be thy defence, and thou shalt have plenty of silver.


Yea - rather, Then shall the Almighty be, etc.

Defence - rather, as the same Hebrew [ betser (H1220)] means in Job 22:24 (see note), thy precious metals; God will be to thee in the place of riches.

Plenty of silver - rather, 'and shall be to thee in the place of laboriously obtained treasures of silver.' [ tow`aapowt (H8443), from yaa`eep (H3287), worn out with labour.] (Gesenius.) Elegantly implying, it is less labour to find God than the hidden metals; at least to the humble seeker (Job 28:12-28). But Maurer, has 'the shining silver'-literally, 'silver of splendours.'

Verse 26

For then shalt thou have thy delight in the Almighty, and shalt lift up thy face unto God.

Lift up ... face ... - repeated from Zophar (Job 11:15).

Verse 27

Thou shalt make thy prayer unto him, and he shall hear thee, and thou shalt pay thy vows.

(Isaiah 58:9; Isaiah 58:14.)

Pay thy vows - which thou hast promised to God in the event of thy prayers being heard: God will give thee occasion to pay the former by hearing the latter.

Verse 28

Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee: and the light shall shine upon thy ways.

Decree - purpose or resolve on a thing, and thy resolution shall be realized.

Light - success.

Verse 29

When men are cast down, then thou shalt say, There is lifting up; and he shall save the humble person.

Rather, When thy ways (from Job 22:28) are cast down (for a time), thou shalt (soon again have joyful cause to) say, There is lifting up (prosperity returns back to me). (Maurer.)

He - God. Humble - Hebrew, 'him that is of low eyes,' Eliphaz implies that Job is not so now in his affliction; therefore it continues: with this he contrasts the blessed effect of being humble under it (James 4:6, and 1 Peter 5:5, probably quote this passage). Therefore it is better, I think, to take the first clause as referred to in James and Peter by "God resisteth the proud." When (men) are cast down, thou shalt say (behold the effects of) pride. Eliphaz hereby justifies himself for attributing Job's calamities to his pride. "Giveth grace to the humble" answers to the second clause.

Verse 30

He shall deliver the island of the innocent: and it is delivered by the pureness of thine hands.

Island - i:e., dwelling. But the Hebrew [cut down from 'eeyn (H369)] expresses the negative (1 Samuel 4:21); translate 'Thus He (God) shall deliver him who was not guiltless'-namely, one who, like Job himself on conversion shall be saved, but not because he was, as Job so constantly affirms of himself, guiltless, but because he humbles himself (Job 22:29): an oblique attack upon Job even to the last.

And it - rather, 'he (the one not heretofore guiltless) shall be delivered through the purity (acquired since conversion) of thy hands:' by thy intercession, (as Genesis 18:26, etc.) (Maurer.) God will deliver even others from death at thy intercession. The irony is strikingly exhibited in Eliphaz unconsciously uttering words which exactly answer to what happened at last: he and the other two were "delivered" by God accepting the intercession of Job for them (Job 42:7-8). Umbreit makes Eliphaz in the latter clause turn from Job to God: 'He (Job) shall be delivered by the pureness of thine hands,' O God, not by his own pureness, such as he once thought he had.


(1) Man's piety is no gain to God: the 'profit' is all to one's self (Job 35:7). We cannot add to God's perfect felicity, nor put Him under an obligation to us. When we have done all that is commanded to us, the truth is, "we are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do" (Luke 17:10). God receives no benefit from man for which He owes us a debt. When He desires us to be holy, it is our happiness that He desires. The cause of men's misery or blessedness is to be looked for in themselves, and is not due to any selfish aim on God's part: for whether we be saved or lost, God shall overrule all things to His own glory (Proverbs 16:4).

(2) God, being Himself the All-merciful and All-just One, takes particular cognizance of sins against the law of justice and the law of love. The poor, the naked, the weary, the hungry, the widow, and the fatherless are His especial clients: He will plead their cause and execute judgment for them, not only on the oppressor, but also on the unmerciful, who have had no sympathy for, and rendered no relief to their brethren in their distress. The Judge shall say, "Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these (my brethren), ye did it not to me" (Matthew 25:45). Even in this world retribution in kind often overtakes the unmerciful and selfish. But the full retribution shall be in the world to come.

(3) The worldly and unbelieving are willing to admit the being of a God, provided that He be not supposed to take particular cognizance of all the concerns of this lower world: "Thick clouds" (Job 22:14), say they in their heart, if not in express words, "are a veil to Him, that He seeth not:" it is true "He walketh in the circuit of heaven," but as to what goes on here on earth, nature has her fixed laws, and "all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation" (2 Peter 3:3-4). In direct confutation of all such Epicurean notions stands the fact of God's visitation of man's sin with the overwhelming flood, in the days of Noah (Job 22:15-16; 2 Peter 3:5). The way of wickedness is an "old way," but it is no better and no safer for that. The same God who punished so awfully men's ungodliness and unbelief then, can and will do the same again by fire (2 Peter 3:7).

(4) The practical lesson to be learned by each is, "Acquaint now thyself with God, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee" (Job 22:21). So long as one is unconverted, one is alienated from, and a stranger to God. Whatever else he may know, he knows not Him whom to know is "eternal life" (John 17:3). To be at peace with God, we must come to Him through Christ, who is "our peace;" and then, "being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1).

(5) The blessed fruits of this peace with God are, His law becomes henceforth dear to us, so that we no longer put from us Him and His words (Job 22:17), but "lay them up in our heart" (Job 22:22): the love of money gives place to the love of God; gold is henceforth valued by us as but "dust" (Job 22:24-25), when compared with the Almighty. God is the believer's treasures and his "delight" (Job 22:26): no longer does he hang the head in slavish fear, but "lifts up his face unto God" in child-like confidence (Job 22:26): his prayers, too, are heard, being presented through the all-prevailing merits of our great High Priest (Job 22:27): his purposes, being in the main directed to the glory of God, are realized (Job 22:28).

(6) Twenty-ninth verse furnishes us with one great key of God's dealings with us: God is continually abasing the proud and lifting up the humble. He will save none but those who confess themselves "not innocent." He will have none to be esteemed absolutely pure but Himself (Job 22:30; Luke 18:10-14).

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 22". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/job-22.html. 1871-8.
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