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Sunday, June 16th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Job 33

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

Verse 1

Wherefore, Job, I pray thee, hear my speeches, and hearken to all my words.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 2

Behold, now I have opened my mouth, my tongue hath spoken in my mouth.

Mouth - rather, palate, whereby the taste discerns. Every man speaks with his mouth, but few, as Elihu, try their words with discrimination first, and only say what is really good (Job 6:30; Job 12:11).

Hath spoken - rather, proceeds to speak.

Verse 3

My words shall be of the uprightness of my heart: and my lips shall utter knowledge clearly.

I will speak according to my inward conviction.

Clearly - rather, purely; [ baaruwr (H1305)] sincerely; not distorting the truth through passion, as the friends.

Verse 4

The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.

The Spirit of God hath made me - as He did thee: latter clause of Job 33:6 (Genesis 2:7). Therefore thou needest not fear me as thou wouldest God (Job 33:7; Job 9:34). On the other hand, 'the breath of the Almighty hath inspired me' (as Job 32:8); not, as the English version, "given me life:" therefore "I am, according to thy wish (Job 9:32-33), in God's stead" to thee; a "daysman," umpire, or mediator between God and thee. So Elihu was designed by the Holy Spirit to be a type of Jesus Christ (Job 33:23-26).

Verse 5

If thou canst answer me, set thy words in order before me, stand up.

Images from a court of justice. Stand up - alluding to Job's words (Job 30:20).

Verse 6

Behold, I am according to thy wish in God's stead: I also am formed out of the clay.

(Note, Job 33:4; Job 31:35; Job 13:3; Job 13:20-21.)

In God's stead - literally, 'for God' [ laa-'Eel (H410)]. Maurer translates 'I am to God (in the same relation) as thou art.' But Job 33:23 implies he was God's representative, as the English version renders the Hebrew correctly here, "in God's stead."

Formed - though acting as God's representative, I am but a creature like thyself. Arabic, pressed together, as a mass of clay by the potter in forming a vessel (Umbreit). Hebrew cut off, as the portion taken from the clay to form it [ qaarats (H7169)] (Maurer).

Verse 7

Behold, my terror shall not make thee afraid, neither shall my hand be heavy upon thee.

Hand - alluding to Job's words (Job 13:21, "Withdraw thine hand far from me"). The Hebrew here is not found elsewhere [ 'ekep (H405)]. It means in Arabic 'a load' or 'burden.' So Maurer and Umbreit translate it here. But in Job 13:21 [ kap (H3709)] the kindred word means 'hand.' So the Septuagint translates as the English version rightly here.

Verse 8

Surely thou hast spoken in mine hearing, and I have heard the voice of thy words, saying,

Thy words - (Job 10:7; Job 16:17; Job 23:11-12; Job 27:5-6; Job 29:14). In Job 9:30; Job 13:23, Job had acknowledged sin; but the general spirit of his words was to maintain himself to be "clean," and to charge with injustice. He went too far on the opposite side in opposing the friends' false charge of hypocrisy. Even the godly, though willing to confess themselves sinners in general, often dislike sin in particular to be brought as a charge against them. Affliction is therefore needed to bring them to feel that sin in them deserves even worse than they suffer, and that God does them no injustice. Then at length, humbled under God, they find affliction is for their real good; and so at last it is taken away either here, or at least at death. To teach this is Elihu's mission.

Verse 9

I am clean without transgression, I am innocent; neither is there iniquity in me.

Clean - spotless.

Verse 10

Behold, he findeth occasions against me, he counteth me for his enemy,

Occasions - for hostility: literally, enmities (Job 13:24; Job 16:9; Job 19:11; Job 30:21). [ tªnuw'owt (H8569)]

Verse 11

He putteth my feet in the stocks, he marketh all my paths.

(Job 13:27.)

Marketh - narrowly watches (Job 14:16; Job 7:12; Job 31:4)

Verse 12

Behold, in this thou art not just: I will answer thee, that God is greater than man.

In this - view of God and His government. It cannot be that God should jealously 'watch' man, though 'spotless' as an 'enemy,' or as one afraid of Him as an equal. For "God is greater than man." There must be sin in man, even though he be no hypocrite, which needs correction by suffering for the sufferer's good.

Verse 13

Why dost thou strive against him? for he giveth not account of any of his matters.

Why dost thou strive against him? (Isaiah 45:9.)

His matters - ways; literally, words. The Hebrew idiom uses "word" [ dªbaar (H1697)] for "things." Our part is, not to "strive" with God, but to submit. To believe it is right because He does it, not because we see all the reasons for His doing it.

Verse 14

For God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not.

Translate, 'Yet man regardeth it not:' or, rather, as Umbreit, 'Yea twice (he repeats the warning), (if) man gives no heed' to the first warning. Elihu implies that God's reason for sending affliction is because, when God has communicated His will in various ways, man in prosperity has not heeded it: God therefore must try what affliction will effect (John 15:2; Psalms 62:11; Isaiah 28:10; Isaiah 28:13).

Verse 15

In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed;

Slumberings - light, as opposed to 'deep sleep.' Elihu has in view Eliphaz (Job 4:13), and also Job himself (Job 7:14). "Dreams" in sleep, and "visions" of actual apparitions, were among the ways whereby God then spake to man (Genesis 20:3).

Verse 16

Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction,

Literally, sealeth (their ears) to himself by warnings - i:e., with the sureness and secrecy of a seal He reveals His warnings (Umbreit). To seal up securely (Job 37:7) to one's self. On the "openeth," see Job 36:10.

Verse 17

That he may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man.

Purpose - margin, 'work.' So. Job 36:9. So 'business' in a bad sense (1 Samuel 20:19). Elihu alludes to Job's words (Job 17:11). "Pride" is an open "pit" (Job 33:18) which God hides or covers up lest man should fall into it. Even the godly need to learn the lesson, which trials teach, to 'humble themselves under the mighty hand of God.'

Verse 18

He keepeth back his soul from the pit, and his life from perishing by the sword.

His soul - his life.

The pit - the grave; a symbol of hell.

Perishing by the sword - i:e., a violent death; in the Old Testament a symbol of the future punishment of the ungodly.

Verse 19

He is chastened also with pain upon his bed, and the multitude of his bones with strong pain:

When man does not heed warnings of the night, he is chastened, etc. The new thought suggested by Elihu is that affliction is disciplinary (Job 36:10): for the good of the godly.

Multitude - so the Hebrew margin (Qeri') [ rowb (H7379)]. Better, with the text (Kethibh), 'And with the perpetual (strong) contest [ riyb (H7378)] of his bones;' the never-resting fever in his bones (Psalms 38:3, "Neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin"). (Umbreit.)

Verse 20

So that his life abhorreth bread, and his soul dainty meat.

Life - i:e., the appetite, which ordinarily sustains, "life" (Job 38:39, margin; see Psalms 107:18, "Their soul abhorreth all manner of meat, and they drew near unto the gates of death;" Ecclesiastes 12:5, "Desire shall fail"). The taking away of desire for food by sickness symbolizes the removal by affliction of lust for things which foster the spiritual fever of pride.

Soul - desire.

Verse 21

His flesh is consumed away, that it cannot be seen; and his bones that were not seen stick out.

His flesh, once prominent, 'can no more be seen.' His bones, once not seen, now appear prominent.

Stick out - literally, are bare [ shupuw (H8205)]. The Hebrew margin (Qeri') reading. The text (Kethibh) reads it a noun (are become), 'bareness' [ shªpiy (H8205)]. The Qeri' was no doubt an explanatory reading of transcribers.

Verse 22

Yea, his soul draweth near unto the grave, and his life to the destroyers.

Destroyers - angels of death commissioned by God to end man's life (2 Samuel 24:16; Psalms 78:49, "He cast upon them the fierceness of His anger ... by sending evil angels among them"). The death pains personified may, however, be meant: so 'gnawers' (note, Job 30:17).

Verse 23

If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to shew unto man his uprightness:

Elihu refers to himself as the divinely sent (Job 32:8; Job 33:6) "messenger" or angel [ mal'aak (H4397)], the "interpreter," to explain to Job and vindicate God's righteousness; [ meeliyts (H3887)], an interpreter of foreign tongues, and so an interpreter to Job of God's obscure dealings: such a one Eliphaz had denied that Job could look for (Job 5:1); and Job (Job 9:33) had wished for such a "daysman" or umpire between him and God. The "messenger" of good is antithetical to "the destroyers" (Job 33:22).

With him, [ `aalaayw (H5921)] - 'for him' - i:e., for his good, for his salvation (Maurer). If these be vouchsafed to the sufferer. The office of the interpreter is stated, 'to show unto man God's uprightness' in His dealings. Umbreit translates, 'man's upright course toward God' (Proverbs 14:2), 'to show man what is his upright course toward God.' The former is better: Job maintained his own "uprightness" (Job 16:17; Job 27:5-6); Elihu, on the contrary, maintains God's, and that man's true uprightness lies in submission to God. - "One among a thousand" is a man rarely to be found. So Jesus Christ (Song of Solomon 5:10, "The chiefest among ten thousand"). Elihu, the God-sent mediator of a temporal deliverance (Job 33:24-26), is a type of the God-man Jesus Christ, the Mediator of eternal deliverance, "the messenger of the covenant" (Malachi 3:1). This is the wonderful work of the Holy Spirit, that persons and events move in their own sphere in such a way as unconsciously to shadow forth Him whose "testimony is the spirit of prophecy," as the same point may be center of a small and of a vastly larger concentric circle.

Verse 24

Then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom.

He is gracious - God. This verse is the apodosis to Job 33:23.

Deliver - literally, redeem: [ paada` (H6308) or paadaah (H6299)]: deliver by paying a price [Greek, lutron (G3083), a payment or ransom, used Matthew 20:28, "The Son of man came to give his life a ransom for many"]. In it and "ransom" there is reference to the consideration or price, on account of which God pardons and relieves the sufferers; here it is primarily the intercession of Elihu. But the language is too strong for its full meaning to be exhausted by this. The Holy Spirit has suggested language which receives its full realization only in the "eternal redemption found" by God in the price paid by Jesus Christ for it - i:e., His blood and meritorious intercession (cf. Hebrews 9:12). 'Obtained'-literally, found: implying the earnest zeal, wisdom, and faithfulness of the finder, and the newness and joyousness of the finding. Jesus Christ could not but have found it, but still His seeking it was needed (Bengel). (Luke 15:6; Luke 15:9, "I have found my sheep which was lost ... I have found the piece which I had lost.") God the Father is the finder (Psalms 89:19-20, "Thou spakest in vision to thy Holy One ... I have laid help upon one that is mighty ... I have found David my servant"). Jesus Christ is the Redeemer, to whom He saith, Redeem (so Hebrew) him from going, etc. (2 Corinthians 5:19.) Ransom, [ koper (H3724)] - used in a general sense by Elihu, but meant by the Holy Spirit in its strict sense, as applied to Jesus Christ, of a price paid for deliverance (Exodus 21:30, "ransom of His life") - an atonement (i:e., means of setting at one - i:e., reconciling two who are estranged), a covering, as of the ark with pitch, typical of what covers us sinners from wrath (Genesis 6:14, "Pitch it ... with pitch;" cover it with a covering of pitch, not to let the flood of wrath cover it: Hebrew [ kaapartaa (H3722) bakoper (H3724)]; Psalms 32:1). The pit is primarily here the grave (Isaiah 38:17. "the pit of corruption"), but the spiritual pit is mainly shadowed forth (Zechariah 9:11, "the pit wherein is no water").

Verses 25-28

His flesh shall be fresher than a child's: he shall return to the days of his youth:

Effects of restoration to God's favour; literally, to Job a temporal revival; spiritually, an eternal regeneration. The striking words cannot be restricted to their temporal meaning as used by Elihu (1 Peter 1:11-12).

Fresher than a child's. So Naaman, 2 Kings 5:14; spiritually, John 3:3-7.

Verse 26. Job shall no longer pray to God, as he complains, in vain (Job 23:3; Job 23:8-9). True especially to the redeemed in Jesus Christ (John 16:23-27).

He (Job) shall see his face - or God shall make him to see his face (Maurer). The Hebrew will suit either case. God shall no longer "hide his face" (Job 13:24). True to the believer now, John 14:21-22; eternally, Psalms 17:15; John 17:24.

His (God's) righteousness - God will again make the restored Job no longer ("I perverted ... right," Job 33:27.) doubt God's justice, but to justify Him in His dealings. Literally, "He restores to man His righteousness" - i:e., the recognition of His righteousness, both in His past dealings, as also in His present acceptance of the sinner on repentance and faith. God's righteousness is magnified in the penitent believer's salvation. The penitent justifies God (Psalms 51:4). So the believer is made to see God's righteousness in Jesus Christ (Isaiah 45:24, "In the Lord have I righteousness and strength;" Isaiah 46:13).

Verse 27. He looketh - God. But Umbreit, 'Now he (the restored penitent) singeth joyfully (answering to "joy," Job 33:26; Psalms 51:12) before men, and saith,' etc. (Proverbs 25:20; Psalms 66:16, "Come and hear all ye that fear God, and I will declare what He hath done for my soul;" Psalms 116:14) [ yaashor (H7789), from shuwr (H7788) or shiyr (H7891), to sing]. The English version, however, is good Hebrew and good sense, Job 33:28 forming the apodosis, "If any say I have sinned ... (then) He (God) will deliver his (that man's) soul," etc.

Perverted - made the straight crooked: as Job had misrepresented God's character.

Profited, [ shaawaah (H7737) liy (H3807a)] - literally, it was not made even to me: 'My punishment was not commensurate with my sin;' (so Zophar, Job 11:6, "God exacteth of thee less than thine iniquity deserveth"); the reverse of what Job heretofore said (Job 16:17; Psalms 103:10; Ezra 9:13).

Verse 28. (Note, Job 33:24). The Kethibh, or Hebrew text (the English version reads as the Hebrew margin, Qeri', 'HIS soul, HIS life'), is, 'He hath delivered MY soul, etc., MY life' [ napshow (H5315) ... chayaatow (H2416)] (Qeri'): [ napshiy (H5315) ... chayaatiy (H2416)] (Kethibh). The Kethibh is the continuation of the penitent's testimony to the people, according to Umbreit's view (Job 33:27).

Light - (Job 33:30; Job 3:16; Job 3:20; Psalms 56:13, "Thou hast delivered my soul from death, that I may walk before God in the light of the living;" Ecclesiastes 11:7).

Verse 29

Lo, all these things worketh God oftentimes with man,

Hebrew margin, etc., twice (and) thrice, alluding to Job 33:14: once by visions, Job 33:15-17; secondly, by afflictions, Job 33:19-22; now by the "messenger;" thirdly, Job 33:23.

Verse 30

To bring back his soul from the pit, to be enlightened with the light of the living.

Referring to Job 33:28 (Psalms 56:13).

Verse 31

Mark well, O Job, hearken unto me: hold thy peace, and I will speak.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 32

If thou hast any thing to say, answer me: speak, for I desire to justify thee.

Justify - to do thee justice; and, if I can, consistently with it, to declare thee innocent. At Job 33:33 Elihu pauses for a reply; then proceeds, Job 34:1-37.


(1) Calm and candid reasoning in a kindly spirit is more likely to win men to a right state of mind than dealing with a "heavy hand" (Job 33:3; Job 33:7). The minister, while addressing sinners authoritatively, as "in God's stead" (Job 33:6), and "in Christ's stead" (2 Corinthians 5:20), should speak with a fellow-feeling, as Elihu, "I also am formed out of the clay:" or as Peter to Cornelius, "I myself also am a man." 'Terror' only hardens it: it is love alone that melts it (Job 33:7).

(2) At the same time, the sinner is to be dealt faithfully with; and when anything has been said to the dishonour of God, we ought to bear our testimony against it, in vindication of His goodness and His justice (Job 33:8-12). Job had been betrayed, by a mind soured by misfortune, into unwarranted reflections against God, as though God treated him in the spirit of an "enemy;" and this, notwithstanding that he was "clean, without transgression, and innocent." The one simple consideration, that "God is greater than man," is a complete answer to such wrong-minded imputations against Yahweh. When God afflicts man, it cannot be from fear or jealousy of him as an equal. It must be for some other reason. It is worse than vain to "strive against Him" (Job 33:13) because we cannot always discover what is the reason of some of His dealings with us: for "He giveth not account of any of His matters." We may in faith take it assuredly for granted that He acts in perfect wisdom, justice, and goodness, though we cannot perceive it.

(3) When God designs our good, He speaks to us by various agencies: if we give no heed to one voice from Him, He speaks to us in another (Job 33:14-19). When His word of grace and His loving dealings in providence fail to attract us to Him, He next sends affliction. His gracious purpose is to open men's hearts, as well as their ears, to saving instruction (Job 33:16), as He opened the heart of Lydia (Acts 16:14). Man if left to himself, would go on in his own "work" of self-seeking "pride," which goeth before destruction (Job 33:17; Proverbs 16:18). But God mercifully "keepeth back his soul from the pit," by sending severe but wholesome disciplinary chastisement (Job 33:19-22). Though pain, which is the fruit of sin, is not for the time "joyous, but grievous, yet afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to them that are exercised thereby" (Hebrews 12:11).

(4) Gods most effectual way of drawing man to Himself is by the Divine "Messenger" between God and man, the Mediator, "the chiefest among ten thousand," the Intercessor with God for us, and the "Interpreter" to vindicate God's righteousness to us (Job 33:23-24; Job 33:26). Christ Jesus is at once the Redeemer and the Ransom found by the love of the triune God: He is alone the Priest and the Sacrifice. In order to have a saving part in this great redemption, we must be born again of the Spirit, and become little children (Job 33:25). The first token of regeneration is hearty repentance and confession of sin-of the fact of sin, without palliating it - "I have sinned;" of the perversity of our sin - "I have perverted that which was right;" of, the profitless folly of it - "It profited me not." Then shall we "be enlightened with the light of the living" (Job 33:30), and "shall see God's face with joy," as a reconciled Father (Job 33:26).

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 33". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/job-33.html. 1871-8.
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