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Bible Commentaries
Job 12

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-25

Job 12:6 . The tabernacles of robbers prosper. Or as it might be rendered, a placid tranquility gladdens the tabernacles of robbers; referring to the Arabs, who plunder the merchants. This and the following are invincible arguments.

Job 12:12 . With the ancient is wisdom. The Hebrews have three words which they use to express degrees of age in old men. Zaken, a man above sixty years of age; Sheb, a man above seventy; Ishish, a man upwards of eighty. Ishish being used here, we may infer that Job’s calamities happened before he had attained that age.

Job 12:15 . The waters overturn the earth, alluding to the deluge of Noah, when the mighty tides washed the mountains, made depositions of marine productions, and stratified all the northern regions with an infinitude of reeds and plants, natives of the torrid zone. Such is the opinion of the ingenious Mr. Hutchinson. Genesis 7:8.

Job 12:17 . He leadeth counsellors away spoiled, or despoiled of wisdom. God is worthy of praise, not of blame, for confounding the counsel of Ahitophel. We must always treat the permission of evil as emanating from the unsearchable depths of providence, as is the sense of Job 12:22; Job 12:24. “He leadeth the chiefs in a wilderness where there is no way.”

Job 12:19 . He leadeth princes away spoiled. The word כהן cohen, signifies priests; but the Chaldee has princes, for the prince and the priest in Job’s time was the same person, as is exemplified in Melchizedek, Abraham, &c. Hence the use of this term is a farther argument of the great antiquity of the book of Job.

Job 12:23 . He increaseth the nations, and destroyeth them. If this were true in patriarchal society, how much more so in the great theatre of universal history. What great cities now lie in ruins: what vast countries, are now occupied by conquering invaders. The successive scourges of war, and the terrific pestilence, have eased the earth of its dense population.


Job, long afflicted with the most tremendous strokes of providence, and surrounded with clouds of darkness, which all the efforts of his wisdom tried in vain to penetrate, felt an addition to his grief, from the pointed charges of his comforters, that all his calamities were the consequences of secret crimes. Yet, blessed be God, a conscious rectitude will support a man under the severest misconstructions of character. Amidst all these afflictions he collected soul sufficient to give a smart stroke of satire at the arguments of his friends, and ably refuted the impropriety of disregarding pleas of innocence, and drawing criminal conclusions in a case as yet involved in clouds. “Doubtless ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with you.” To him, their arguments were not new; they were the current maxims of providence. Therefore he consoled himself in the exercise of reason, and in a conscious recollection of providence. He was confident that his friends had no warrant to afflict the afflicted. He felt the wrongs they had done to his soul; he was as one mocked of his neighbour. He was despised as an expiring lamp; though a burning and shining light, having instructed the ignorant, and judged his city: Job 29:7-17.

Job farther consoled himself in his afflictions from the consideration, that though their maxims were often true, nevertheless they were often counteracted by opposite maxims of providence. Hence no just inferences, or severe strictures, could be drawn from the mysterious nature of his case. Thus though his body was afflicted, yet with great mental strength he hurls back every argument on their own heads. “The tabernacles of robbers prosper;” and God pours affluence into the hands of those that tempt him. Ask now the beasts of the forests, and the fishes of the deep, do not the most cruel and voracious prosper best? Am I not in the right? Doth not the ear listen to a fair argument, and the mouth relish its sweetness.

In this common lot of affliction to the saint and the sinner, to the wise man and the fool, Job appeals to God alone for the solution of the equity of his way. Aged men he allows to be wise; but God alone is absolutely so, and with him is perfect understanding. Behold, he breaketh down and buildeth up; he withholds the rain, and nations perish; the innocent and the guilty, the deceived and the deceiver. He dethrones kings, and mocks at the counsellors; he discovers the deep things out of darkness, and exposes the whole of secret plots; he penetrates the shadow of death, that the crimes of the dead may be fairly traced in the historic page. If this then be the way of God with man, why should you suspect me of crimes, and accuse me of lies and of insults to my Maker?

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Job 12". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/job-12.html. 1835.
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